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Angels-Rays Preview

AP - Sports

As the Tampa Rays begin to heat up, the Los Angeles Angels continue to struggle.

The Rays look to complete a three-game sweep of the Angels with a fifth consecutive victory overall Thursday at Tropicana Field.

After David Price tossed a five-hitter in Tuesday's 5-0 win over Los Angeles, Jeremy Hellickson allowed a run in six innings and Ben Zobrist homered as Tampa Bay (11-7) secured its third straight winning series with a 3-2 win against the Angels on Wednesday.

The Rays have won seven of nine since losing four in row. They've also outscored the Angels (6-12) 21-7 during a five-game series winning streak.

Despite the addition of slugger Albert Pujols and Wednesday's losing pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Angels have won only one series and are 2-6 on the road. Los Angeles has scored four runs during its current three-game skid.

"We have a lot of veteran hitters in this lineup that know what they need to do,'' said manager Mike Scioscia, whose team went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday. "It's just matter of executing.''

Vernon Wells had two hits Wednesday, including his fourth homer of the season, but Pujols extended his hitless streak to 19 at-bats with an 0-for-4, two strikeout performance. The three-time NL MVP is batting .222 with no homers and four RBIs in 18 games.

Pujols and the Angels get their first look at Tampa Bay's scheduled starter Matt Moore (0-1, 5.12 ERA), who tries a fourth time for his first win of the season.

Moore allowed three runs and three more walks in 6 1-3 innings but did not factor in the decision of a 5-4 loss to Minnesota on Friday. The left-hander has been plagued by some early control issues while walking 12 and striking out 11 this month.

"It's a matter of a bunch of little things," Moore told the Rays' official website. "I'm kind of getting that feeling back where everything is coming out nice and easy."

Zobrist snapped an 0-for-17 slump with his third-inning homer but he is still batting .180, to go along with three home runs and eight RBIs.

"It's the start of the season," Zobrist said. "April has not always been the greatest month for me. Hopefully I'll get it going a little bit. The good thing is we've been winning. When you're winning games, things are going well. You just keep working hard.''

Zobrist has never faced scheduled Los Angeles starter Jerome Williams (1-1, 7.71), who looks for a second straight strong outing.

The right-hander allowed five runs in 2 2-3 innings of an 11-5 loss at Yankee Stadium in his season debut April 15, but bounced back to give up three and strike out six in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-3 win over Baltimore on Friday.

"That start in New York, I wasn't attacking the zone, and I was behind in the count," Williams told the Angels' official website. "(The last start) I was attacking the zone. I got ahead. If I did make a mistake, I got away with it, and I got guys out."

Williams allowed a run over seven innings in his only previous start versus Tampa Bay, a 7-3 win June 8, 2004, while with San Francisco.

Los Angeles was last swept at Tropicana Field from May 9-11, 2008.

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