Diamondbacks-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

The Arizona Diamondbacks are facing the Los Angeles Angels in Southern California for the first time in more than a decade.

A familiar face will be waiting for them on the mound.

Angels starter Dan Haren is set to face the Diamondbacks for the first time since being traded nearly two years ago in Friday night's series opener.

Arizona helped Los Angeles (34-30) a bit Thursday with an 11-3 win over AL West-leading Texas, trimming the Angels' deficit in the division - once as large as eight games - to three. Los Angeles has closed the gap with a 16-5 stretch, winning three of Haren's four starts in that span.

The Angels won just once in his first nine outings of 2012.

Haren (4-6, 3.73 ERA) was a little shaky Saturday in Colorado, yielding four runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings, but still got credit for the Angels' 11-5 victory. The right-hander was much sharper in his previous three outings, posting a 1.29 ERA with 23 strikeouts and two walks over 21 innings.

The Diamondbacks (31-32) should certainly be familiar with that kind of dominance from him.

Haren went 37-26 with a 3.56 ERA in two-plus seasons in the desert and was named to two All-Star teams. With Arizona in last place in the NL West in 2010, however, the team decided to unload his massive contract and send him to the contending Angels just before the non-waiver trade deadline as part of a five-player deal.

Los Angeles didn't make the playoffs that season or last year, and in an attempt to dethrone Texas in the West it acquired C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols this past winter.

Pujols is starting to come around after a slow start, batting .441 with a homer, seven doubles and seven RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak to raise his average 28 points to .264. He has put up similarly gaudy numbers in his last 11 games against the Diamondbacks, batting .409 with three home runs, five doubles and 15 RBIs.

Torii Hunter has also been instrumental to the Angels' recent surge, batting .412 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last eight contests, bumping his average up 36 points to .271.

Los Angeles is opening a nine-game homestand against NL teams after beating the cross-town rival Dodgers 2-1 on Thursday to cap a 5-1 trip.

This will be the Diamondbacks' first trip to Angel Stadium since taking two of three in 2001, and they arrive in Southern California feeling good having won six of eight to move within a game of .500.

Arizona pounded out 14 hits Thursday - including homers from Miguel Montero, Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra - after combining for one run and 10 hits while losing its first two games in Texas.

Kubel is batting .333 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in his last seven games, and is 3 for 10 with a home run and double against Haren since 2010.

The Diamondbacks counter with Trevor Cahill (4-5, 3.36), who is seeking a third straight victory.

After tossing a six-hitter in a 6-0 win over San Diego on June 3, Cahill permitted two runs in 7 1-3 innings of Saturday's 8-3 victory over Oakland, his former team. The right-hander has yielded two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts.

Cahill lost to the Angels twice last season after going 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA against them in 2010.

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