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Angels-Rangers Preview

AP - Sports

Set to begin a key four-game road set against the AL West leaders, the Los Angeles Angels have picked a bad time for their bats to go cold. Things won't get any easier if star rookie Mike Trout remains out of the lineup.

After being shut out in back-to-back games, the Angels look to get back on track Monday night against the Texas Rangers.

Los Angeles (55-47) scored six or more runs three times while winning four of five before being shut out in two straight games by Tampa Bay over the weekend. The Angels were held to nine hits in those defeats, including four during Sunday's 2-0 loss that spoiled Zack Greinke's Los Angeles debut.

"We just didn't score runs for him," said outfielder Vernon Wells, 2 for 15 in his last five games.

Los Angeles, which has not been shut out in three straight games since June 24-26, 1978, hopes Trout returns after missing the finale because of a knee injury suffered in Saturday's 3-0 defeat. Trout, who turns 21 on Aug. 7, is batting an AL-best .350 with 16 homers, 49 RBIs and 31 stolen bases.

He's hit .441 (15 for 34) to help the Angels go 5-4 against Texas (59-41) in 2012.

"Hopefully he'll get back in there (Monday)," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website.

Third in the West, Los Angeles trails Texas by five games. Though the Angels lead the season series, they allowed 25 runs while dropping two of three at Texas in May.

Ervin Santana (4-10, 6.00 ERA), who allowed six runs and three homers in 1 2-3 innings of a 9-2 home loss to the Rangers in his last outing July 21, might need a strong performance to remain in the Angels' rotation. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 9.41 ERA in five starts since beating Arizona on June 16, and 1-1 with an 11.00 ERA in his last four road starts.

"Obviously, it's a time in our season where we need production from our starters and we're going to evaluate this thing," Scioscia said about Santana's future in the rotation.

While stars Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Michael Young are each hitting .360 or better versus Santana, Josh Hamilton has batted .212 (7 for 33) against him. Mired in a 1-for-21 slump, Hamilton is batting .115 (7 for 61) with 20 strikeouts in his last 17 games overall.

However, he still remains a concern for Scioscia and the Angels.

"It's like if a rattlesnake is asleep, you don't take it for granted," Scioscia said. "He's a dangerous hitter."

Texas avoided a three-game sweep by Chicago with a 2-0 win Sunday. Scott Feldman pitched eight strong innings and David Murphy had three hits for the Rangers, who have not won consecutive games since July 15-17.

Texas went 1 for 31 with runners in scoring position against the White Sox.

"At least we're getting them (in position)," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We're too good a hitting team to (continue) to not get them home.''

The return of Mitch Moreland might help. The club activated the first baseman from the disabled list hours before the game and put him in the lineup.

Moreland, out since June 19 with a strained left hamstring, is batting .272 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs in 55 games this season.

Texas' Roy Oswalt (3-1, 5.22) makes his first start in 12 days and first career appearance against the Angels in the opener. The right-hander missed his last start because of tightness in his back but appears ready to give it a go Monday.

Oswalt has allowed one run in each of his last two outings, the most recent over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-1 win at Oakland on July 17.

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