Angels-Athletics Preview

The Associated PressMay 21, 2012

A lack of timely hitting hurt the Los Angeles Angels during the first stop on their road trip. They've also had trouble coming through in the clutch in recent games against the Oakland Athletics.

Albert Pujols, though, has been successful in this season's series and he'll try to help the potentially short-handed Angels avoid their longest losing streak in nearly a month in Monday night's series opener.

Los Angeles (18-24) opened its 10-game trip with a 7-2 win over San Diego on Friday but went 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position in back-to-back defeats. The Angels were 1 for 14 in Sunday's 3-2, 13-inning loss and tied a season high by leaving 12 runners on base.

"The frustration of not playing to your potential, it's tough," manager Mike Scioscia said.

Los Angeles has batted .231 with runners in scoring position while going 2-4 this season against the A's (21-21) and was 4 for 27 (.148) during a four-game losing streak in that series that ended May 15.

Pujols, though, has been at his best when facing Oakland as he's hit .440 with four doubles over those matchups. The first baseman, batting .211 in his first season with the Angels, has hit better than .286 against only one other opponent, going 3 for 10 in three games against Kansas City.

Pujols hit a pair of doubles in three at-bats in his most recent matchup with Monday's scheduled starter for Oakland, Tommy Milone (5-3, 4.09 ERA), but the left-hander earned the win in a 4-2 victory April 19.

Milone gave up two runs and seven hits over five innings in that game but allowed four runs and a career-high nine hits over seven frames of a 4-1 loss in Texas on Wednesday. He's 2-2 with a 6.46 ERA over his last four starts after going 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in his first four for the A's, who avoided a sweep in San Francisco with a 6-2 win Sunday.

Milone is hoping a return home, where he's 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA this season, will help produce a better result.

"Having a bigger park like ( Coliseum), it's a lot easier to throw to contact," he told the team's website. "That's my game plan when I'm there."

Milone will also face a team that's expected to send two players, Vernon Wells (right thumb) and Ryan Langerhans (right shoulder), to the disabled list. Torii Hunter also remains on the restricted list as he continues to help his 17-year-old son, who is facing a sexual assault charge in Texas.

Jerome Williams (4-1, 3.86) will try to help his short-handed team avoid its first three-game losing streak since a season-worst five-game skid April 22-27 by earning a career high-tying fifth straight win. The right-hander, though, hasn't been at his sharpest lately as he's given up 10 or more hits in each of his last two outings.

He avoided the loss May 11 in Texas despite allowing six runs and 11 hits over 6 2-3 innings. The Chicago White Sox got 10 hits off him over eight innings Wednesday but he only allowed two runners to score in a 7-2 victory.

Williams is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in five career starts against Oakland and gave up one run over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-2 win Sept. 24. He last won five straight decisions from June 21-July 12, 2003, while with San Francisco and beat the A's twice during that run.