Angels-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox came into this season with hopes of contending for division titles, or at the very least, the AL's two wild card berths.

The clubs' playoff aspirations, though, have taken a big hit this month, but each team has a chance to help itself at the other's expense.

The Angels and Red Sox will play the first of six matchups over the next two weeks Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

With the high-profile signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles appeared ready to challenge two-time pennant winner Texas for the AL West crown. The Angels (62-60), however, have faded in that race by going 5-13 this month and head into Boston after getting swept in four home games against Tampa Bay.

Los Angeles was outscored 37-14 during that set, and home runs from Pujols and Mike Trout were hardly enough in an 8-3 defeat Sunday.

"It's baseball. Just come out Tuesday against Boston and turn the page," Trout told the team's official website. "The last couple of weeks have been tough, but you just have to stay positive."

The Red Sox (59-63) are trying to do the same after starting 6-12 this month. They fell even further behind in the AL East this weekend after dropping two of three to first-place New York.

With a 4-1 loss Sunday, Boston finished 4-6 on its season-high, 10-game road trip and dropped to 13-19 since David Ortiz hurt his right Achilles tendon. Ortiz might return during his team's seven-game homestand but likely won't be in the lineup Tuesday.

"It's difficult (to watch)," Ortiz told the team's official website. "We want to win right now pretty much in the last quarter of the season. Seeing the wild card (standings) every day, definitely, we've got to be able to win some games."

The Red Sox will try to earn those wins during a quick completion of their season series with the Angels. After the three games at Fenway, the teams will play three more in Anaheim from Aug. 28-30.

Aaron Cook (3-6, 4.58 ERA) will try to help Boston win the first of those meetings. After earning a win over Texas on Aug. 6, the right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Wednesday in Baltimore, but his throwing error led to five runs in a 5-3 defeat.

"I let the team down. We're trying to win games, and that was a game we should have won," Cook said. "It's a play I've made 100 times. I just didn't get my feet set."

He is 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in three starts against the Angels with the most recent coming June 26, 2010, while with Colorado.

Cook's counterpart in this game, Ervin Santana (6-10, 5.59), will try to win consecutive starts for the first time since mid-June and third time this season. He gave up one run, four hits and a walk over seven innings Wednesday during an 8-4 win over Cleveland.

"I know that I hadn't been pitching good, but I was just doing my best, and I just think positive every time," Santana said. "The last few outings I had been getting better, and then tonight, even better."

Santana has a 2.01 ERA over his last five starts at Fenway but has gotten one win out of his efforts. The Angels are 4-10 over their last 14 games in Boston but won their final two there last season. They're also 4-17 in the past 21 overall matchups.

Santana won't have to deal with Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford, who will have Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Thursday. Crawford, who has been playing with pain since coming off the disabled list last month, hit .282 in 31 games.

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