Angels-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

The surging Los Angeles Angels continue to climb the AL West standings.

Los Angeles goes for a fifth win in six games as it opens a four-game road set against the Seattle Mariners on Monday.

The Angels (28-21) were in fourth place earlier this month but have since moved into second after winning 12 of 16, a stretch during which they've averaged 4.6 runs. Los Angeles is 25-5 when scoring at least four runs compared to 3-16 when it doesn't.

The Angels took two of three from Kansas City after storming back to win 4-3 on Sunday. Los Angeles put together a three-run seventh inning before Chris Iannetta hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth.

Garrett Richards also came up big with seven strong innings opposite Jason Vargas, who issued a season-high five walks.

"I think he was being extra careful with (Albert) Pujols and (Mike) Trout - and Howie Kendrick's also tough," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That's a powerful lineup over there."

The Angels have to be feeling good about giving the ball to Tyler Skaggs (4-1, 4.14 ERA), as they are 8-1 when he takes the mound. The left-hander scattered five hits over seven innings of one-run ball to beat Houston 9-3 on Tuesday, improving to 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA in his last three starts.

Skaggs has been especially good on the road, where he's won each of his first three starts behind a 1.57 ERA. Opponents are batting .139 against him as the visiting pitcher compared to .293 at home.

Skaggs will be getting his first look at the Mariners, who counter with Chris Young (3-2, 3.53). The veteran right-hander had won three straight outings before losing his last two while posting a 6.08 ERA.

Young, who has served up four homers in those two defeats, yielded all four runs over 6 1-3 innings in Wednesday's 4-3 loss at Texas.

"Whether you give up 10 or one, you have to be better than their guy," he told MLB's official website. "That's what the game is about."

Young could benefit from getting back home, where he's gone 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA over three outings. Young is 3-3 with a 6.38 ERA against the Angels, but he hasn't faced them since 2009.

The Mariners (24-25) are 2-2 on a season-high 11-game homestand after splitting a series with Houston. After falling 9-4 on Saturday, Seattle was limited to four singles against Dallas Keuchel in Sunday's 4-1 defeat.

James Jones, Stefen Romero, Robinson Cano and Justin Smoak, the team's 1-4 hitters, went a combined 0 for 15.

"At some point you've got to stop giving credit to average pitchers. That becomes a broken record," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "At some point we've got to start swinging the bats."

Young won't have to worry about facing Josh Hamilton, who isn't quite ready to return from a torn ligament in his left thumb. The slugging left fielder is hoping to rejoin Los Angeles on its upcoming 10-game road swing, possibly in Seattle.

"He's getting better, but he's not where he needs to be," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website. "He's coming off surgery, and no doubt you have to keep that in mind. He's going to get there. He's in shape; he's been running for five weeks. He just needs to get his timing at the plate."

Los Angeles was outscored 31-13 in dropping four of five against Seattle last month.

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