Angels-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

An injury hasn't cooled off Albert Pujols' bat.

The Seattle Mariners, however, will try to do that again.

Pujols looks to continue his torrid hitting as the Los Angeles Angels go for an eighth win in 10 tries Friday night when they open this three-game set with the surging Mariners.

Pujols sat out last weekend's series at Detroit with tightness in his right calf, and Los Angeles (69-62) dropped two of three.

The injury hasn't hampered him at the plate. The All-Star first baseman is batting .405 with five homers and 14 RBIs in the past 11 games, and went 5 for 11 while driving in four runs in a three-game sweep of Boston after returning to the lineup.

Pujols had two hits, including a two-run double in the opening inning, as the Angels beat the Red Sox 5-2 in the series finale Thursday.

He hasn't been as productive against Seattle (64-68), going 4 for 28 over the past seven meetings. Pujols went 0 for 12 while Los Angeles dropped two of three at home from Aug. 10-12.

The Angels, though, swept a four-game set at Safeco Field from May 24-27, and are trying to win six straight there for the first time since a seven-game run bridging the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

Los Angeles has won seven of nine ahead of this visit, and trails Baltimore by 3 1/2 games for the AL's second wild-card position.

"Right now, we're playing like it's all or nothing, and we're all in," said Torii Hunter, who has six hits in two games.

Dan Haren (8-10, 4.82 ERA) is expected to get the ball for his final chance to win this month. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.27 ERA in four starts in August, including a 7-4 defeat to the Mariners on Aug. 11.

In that meeting, the right-hander was tagged for seven runs with three walks in 3 1-3 innings, but he's been much better at Safeco. He's 5-2 with a 1.99 ERA in 10 games there, tossing a four-hitter with a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 3-0 win May 24.

The Mariners may be at the bottom of the AL West, but they've won 11 of 15 after taking three of four from Minnesota with Thursday's 5-4 win in the series finale.

The run has created a sense of optimism.

"They've gained a great deal of experience this year," manager Eric Wedge said. "We've had a lot of tough games, a lot of tight games ... Their heartbeat's a lot better."

Kyle Seager has been one of those bright spots. The third baseman is hitting .321 with two homers and nine RBIs in four games, but he's 4 for 27 while plating two runs in eight career home meetings with Los Angeles.

Kevin Millwood (4-11, 4.28) might be looking for some help from the lineup after going 0-3 with a 5.76 ERA in his past three trips to the mound, getting backed by an average of 2.43 runs.

"He won the ERA title for us (in Cleveland in 2005 at 2.86) and went 9-11, so it's not his first go-round at this," Wedge said. "I feel bad because you want your pitchers to be rewarded when they go out and pitch well. And he's pitched so much better than his record shows."

Millwood has won his last two starts against the Angels with a 1.06 ERA, but he's facing them for the first time since Aug. 28, 2010. In that meeting, he scattered six hits in eight scoreless innings with Baltimore.

What to Read Next