Mariners-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

Despite making up some ground over the weekend, the Los Angeles Angels still aren't in position for one of the AL's two wild-card berths.

Keeping things going against the visiting Seattle Mariners could prove crucial if they hope to make the playoffs.

The red-hot Zack Greinke looks to lead the Angels a fourth consecutive win Tuesday night in the first of six games against the Mariners over the next nine days.

Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales each had two RBIs as Los Angeles (84-69) completed a three-game sweep of Chicago with Sunday's 4-1 victory. The Angels, who limited the White Sox to five runs in the series, have gone 22-9 while posting a major league-leading 2.83 ERA since Aug. 21.

Sitting in third place in the wild-card standings with nine games remaining, Los Angeles is trying to catch division rival Oakland or Baltimore.

"Obviously there's a little bit of scoreboard watching going on now as we dwindle now here," Jered Weaver said after earning his AL-leading 19th win Sunday. "But we've got to do what we've got to do and not worry about what other teams are doing. It's obviously a great sweep, and hopefully we can keep it rolling against Seattle."

The Angels have to like their chances of doing just that with Greinke (5-2, 3.51 ERA) on the mound.

The right-hander has gone 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA over his last six games while holding opponents to a .184 average. The Angels, though, have scored three runs over his last two starts and lost both.

Greinke struck out eight over eight innings of one-run ball Thursday in a 3-1 loss to Texas, getting removed after 109 pitches and watching Ernesto Frieri serve up the tiebreaking two-run homer.

"I think he's got a range that he's comfortable in, we're comfortable in, and we're not going to extend anybody," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website. "We didn't lose this game because of what Zack didn't do out there. He pitched a terrific game, got us to a certain point, and I think when you start to get in a certain range, you want to be careful."

Frieri also gave up a pair of ninth-inning homers during a 3-2 loss at Kansas City on Sept. 15 after Greinke threw 109 pitches over 8 1-3 innings and left in line for the win.

Greinke went 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA over nine career starts versus the Mariners (72-81) while with Kansas City but hasn't faced them since 2010.

Los Angeles follows this three-game set with six road games to close the regular season, three at Texas and three at Seattle.

The Mariners posted back-to-back wins over the Rangers before falling 3-2 in Sunday's series finale, their seventh loss in 10 games. Seattle is 1 for 39 with runners in scoring position over the last five.

"Had a chance to sweep here today, we're just a little bit short right now," manager Eric Wedge told the Mariners' official website.

Seattle now turns to rookie Erasmo Ramirez (1-2, 3.28), who has been terrific in two September starts after missing more than two months with a right elbow flexor strain.

He gave up two runs over seven innings to earn his first big league win Sept. 11 in a 4-3 victory at Toronto, then carried a shutout into the ninth before allowing two runs to Baltimore in a 4-2, 18-inning loss last Tuesday.

"(Ramirez) was fantastic. He threw a great ballgame," Wedge said. "... That is what you want to see, that is what you love to see."

Ramirez will be getting his first look at Mike Trout, whose major league-leading 122 runs scored are two shy of Vladimir Guerrero's franchise record set in 2004.

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