Angels-Cubs Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels are surging their way back to respectability and a visit to the rebuilding Chicago Cubs would appear to help.

The Cubs, though, have more wins against AL teams than in any other season, and they'll try to close out interleague play with a strong showing in a two-game series that begins Tuesday night.

Los Angeles (43-45) heads into Chicago having won 10 of 12 and a season-high seven in a row on the road.

The Angels have scored 65 runs and batted .306 with runners in scoring position during that 12-game span. They've also posted a 3.00 ERA in their last 11 contests after compiling a 4.41 ERA in their first 77 this season.

Much like Albert Pujols last season, high-priced free agent signee Josh Hamilton is starting to emerge from his early season slump and is batting .372 (16 for 43) during a 12-game hit streak, tied for the longest by an Angels player this season. His .230 batting average is his highest since mid-April.

"It was only a matter of time before all this talent in the room came together and started to get something rolling," pitcher Jered Weaver told the team's website. "Obviously it's a little later than we anticipated, but it's always good to get hot and hopefully we can keep this rolling into Chicago."

Los Angeles will next face a Cubs team that's traded away starting pitcher Scott Feldman, reliever Carlos Marmol and reserve outfielder Scott Hairston in the past week. Another starter, Matt Garza, and outfielder Alfonso Soriano might follow those players out of town.

Soriano, batting .381 with six homers in his last 10 games, went 3 for 4 with a solo shot in an 8-2 win at the crosstown White Sox on Monday. The Cubs scored five runs in the eighth inning to improve to 12-6 in interleague play.

Chicago (39-48) hadn't earned more than nine wins against the AL in any other season.

Travis Wood, the Cubs' lone All-Star, will try to help pad that total while leading Chicago to a fourth straight win. Wood (5-6, 2.69 ERA) will also seek his first victory in seven starts in his first appearance against the Angels.

The left-hander is 0-3 in his last six games despite a 2.58 ERA and has received a combined nine runs of support. Wood pitched six scoreless innings Thursday in a 1-0 loss in Oakland.

"You have to keep battling every single day,'' Wood said. "I have to find a way to win these games. I need to step it up a little more."

Joe Blanton has 10 losses this season, tied for the most in the AL, but is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs. The right-hander gave up two runs over six innings in his most recent matchup Aug. 5, a 7-6 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Blanton (2-10, 5.14) earned one of his rare wins in Houston on June 29 but couldn't build on that outing Thursday. He was charged with five runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5 victory over St. Louis.

Hamilton will try to aid his struggling teammate by extending an eight-game hit streak against the Cubs. The right fielder is 11 for 30 (.367) during that run and hit a pair of doubles as Chicago and Los Angeles split two games in Anaheim from June 4-5.

The Angels won two of three in their only visit to Wrigley Field from June 18-20, 2010.

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