Angels-Orioles Preview

The Associated Press

Jason Vargas was dominant in May and very far from it in his first start this month. His performances against the Baltimore Orioles certainly more resemble the former.

The Los Angeles Angels send Vargas to the mound hoping he can continue his mastery of the Orioles on Tuesday night and help them avoid a fourth consecutive loss.

Although Vargas (5-3, 3.71 ERA) is coming off his worst start in almost a month, there's probably no opponent he'd rather see than Baltimore.

The left-hander was picked as the AL pitcher of the month in May after going 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA in six starts, but he wasn't able to continue that run Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs. Vargas was tagged for five runs and a season-high 11 hits over five-plus innings in an 8-6, 10-inning loss.

Included in Vargas' stellar month was a three-hitter in a 4-0 win over Baltimore on May 3. He is 2-2 with a 1.65 ERA - his best against any AL team - in seven starts versus the Orioles, notching complete games in the past two.

"He's one of those guys that you know what he's going to do coming in," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought when they made that acquisition in the offseason, it was one of the better ones made under the radar."

Vargas has been especially tough on Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, holding the outfielders to a .196 average in 46 combined at-bats.

Los Angeles' disappointing season continued with a 4-3 loss in Monday's series opener despite home runs from Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton in a contest delayed 2 hours, 14 minutes by rain in the sixth inning. The Angels (27-37) went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position in their eighth loss in 10 games.

"It's not like we came out after the rain delay and put our heads down," Trout said. "We gave ourselves a chance and just fell short."

Trout's homer was his seventh against Baltimore, tied with Texas for his most against any club. Five of those home runs have come in the teams' last eight games.

The Orioles (36-28) got a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly from Jones and beat Los Angeles ace Jered Weaver to win for the seventh time in eight home contests.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy has hit safely in eight of nine games this month, batting .485 with three homers, four doubles and seven RBIs.

Heading in the opposite direction is slugger Chris Davis, hitless in his last 16 at-bats. He's 2 for 12 with four strikeouts against Vargas, though one of those hits was a home run.

Miguel Gonzalez (3-2, 4.05) seeks a measure of revenge after he was the losing pitcher opposite Vargas in May. He gave up three runs over six innings, including homers to Trout and Mark Trumbo, who has two in four at-bats off the right-hander.

Looking to rebound after a disappointing start against Detroit, Gonzalez was sharp in a 3-1 victory at Houston on Thursday. He limited the Astros to one run in six innings and matched a season best with seven strikeouts en route to his first win since April 23.

Gonzalez, who earned his first career win against the Angels last season, is 1-0 with a 5.11 ERA in four home starts this year.

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