Angels-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels hope C.J. Wilson can continue to pitch well and help his team begin a run in the positive direction.

That's if they can improve their recent play in Kansas City.

The left-hander tries to win a fourth consecutive start Friday night when the Angels open a three-game series against the Royals.

Wilson (12-9, 3.69 ERA) has posted a 2.41 ERA while winning three straight starts following an 11-game stretch where he went 0-5 with a 6.09 ERA. He gave up an unearned run and four hits in 7 2-3 innings to outpitch reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander in Saturday's 6-1 win over Detroit.

"He was in the zone early for the most part, threw some good breaking balls in some counts to get guys out, and I think he commanded both sides of the plate, good movement on his pitches and was aggressive in the zone," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website. "That's when he's at his best."

Wilson has usually been on top of his game against Kansas City, going 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in four starts. He allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings but did not factor in the decision of a 6-3 home win over the Royals on July 23.

Los Angeles (78-66), which avoided a four-game sweep against Oakland with a 6-0 win Thursday, is making its first trip this season to Kansas City, where it's lost five of six.

Torii Hunter had three hits, including his 15th homer, Thursday for the Angels, who are 3 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot in the AL. Hunter has batted .435 (27 for 62) with three homers and 14 RBIs in his last 15 games.

"Because we're close to the playoffs, I think I go to another level and get that different adrenaline flow in the second half," Hunter said. "That's what drives me.''

Though Hunter has hit .360 (9 for 25) with a homer and five RBIs as the Angels have split six games with the Royals in 2012, he's 3 for 15 with a double and a home run versus Bruce Chen (10-12, 5.36).

The left-hander hopes to keep ball in the park after he allowed seven home runs over 12 innings while losing his last two starts. Chen yielded five runs and three homers in six innings of a 5-4 loss at Chicago on Saturday.

"It's hard to say that he's throwing the ball good, but he's actually throwing the ball OK,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The homers are just hurting him.''

Chen, 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in six starts versus Los Angeles, has posted a 2.38 ERA in two outings against the Angels this season.

Kansas City (65-78) hopes to bounce back after it blew a two-run, eighth-inning lead and fell 4-3 in 10 innings at Minnesota on Thursday.

Billy Butler, 5 for 10 with four RBIs in the last two games, has hit .333 (8 for 24) with two homers and four RBIs in his last six home contests versus Los Angeles. However, he's 3 for 14 (.214) with a double against Wilson.

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