Angels-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

Thanks to their bullpen, the Los Angeles Angels don't have much momentum heading into a big series against their AL West rivals, the Oakland Athletics.

However, if anyone can give them a boost, it's starter Jered Weaver.

Weaver will go for his major league-leading 15th win Monday night when the Angels open their series against the Athletics.

With Texas enjoying a comfortable lead atop the division, Los Angeles and Oakland are battling for the two wild-card spots.

The Angels (58-51) are now one-half-game back of both the Athletics (58-50) and Tigers after losing two of three at Chicago over the weekend.

"I do scoreboard watch. I wonder how the Angels are doing every day," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website following Sunday's 4-2 loss.

Los Angeles has lost six of nine, and its last four losses have all been charged to the bullpen. Its relievers have been tagged for 18 runs and 23 hits, including four homers, in 10 2-3 innings over those defeats.

Weaver (14-1, 2.29 ERA) will try to get the Angels back on track and continue his success against Oakland.

He has won eight straight starts and matched a career high with nine consecutive victories originally set May 27-Aug. 18, 2006, to start his career. The Angels improved to 16-3 in his starts this year after he gave up two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-2 win over the Rangers on Tuesday.

The AL Cy Young Award candidate and the league's ERA leader has a 1.85 ERA over his last 11 starts and also defeated the Athletics on April 16. He gave up a solo homer and two other hits in eight innings of a 3-1, 11-inning victory May 23 in his most recent start against them.

Weaver is 4-2 with a 1.51 ERA in his last eight starts against Oakland. He went 6 2-3 scoreless innings during a victory in April against the A's at home.

While Los Angeles is looking up at Oakland in the standings after the A's torrid run in July, the Angels may be facing them at the right time.

After losing two of three to Tampa Bay, Oakland settled for a split of a four-game set with Toronto after dropping the final two games.

On Sunday, Tommy Milone couldn't protect a 4-1 lead, allowing six runs and nine hits over six innings as the Athletics fell 6-5.

Josh Reddick hit a three-run home run for Oakland, which has lost four of six after winning 19 of 23. The A's had a 2.99 ERA during that 23-game stretch, but a 3.62 mark since.

"We've been on the field a lot in high-pressure situations throughout very long games, so it mounts on you a little bit," manager Bob Melvin said. "The schedule on top of that has not been in our favor in that we've played so many games in a row. We do finally have an off day after the Angels series, but it's something you go through over the course of a season a couple times."

The Athletics hand the ball to Jarrod Parker (7-5, 3.44), who has been inconsistent of late.

Parker had a 2.46 ERA on July 2, but since has gone 2-2 with a 6.07 ERA since. He allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings of a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

The right-hander pitched well versus Weaver in May, allowing one run and five hits while striking out eight over seven innings.

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