Orioles-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

The disappointing Los Angeles Angels have had their share of problems, ranging from an injury to ace Jered Weaver to the continuing struggles of Josh Hamilton.

As Jerome Williams becomes the second to step into Weaver's spot in the rotation, Hamilton hopes to get back on track following a day off when Los Angeles hosts the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday to close a four-game set.

The Angels (11-19) haven't yet lived up to expectations, though they have been without Weaver since he suffered a left elbow April 7. Garrett Richards initially filled that vacancy, but he was sent back to the bullpen after going 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA in four starts.

Richards allowed Steve Pearce's RBI single in the 10th inning that gave Baltimore (18-13) a 5-4 victory Saturday.

Williams (1-0, 1.69 ERA) will make his first start of the season after eight relief appearances as Los Angeles looks to earn a split of the series. He gave up an unearned run while pitching six innings of the Angels' 10-8, 19-inning loss at Oakland on Monday.

"The way Jerome has been throwing the ball in his multi-inning looks has been what we expected," manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official website.

Williams, though, lost his last six starts of 2012 while posting a 7.88 ERA. The right-hander has been much better against Baltimore in his career, winning all three starts with a 3.00 ERA.

Whether or not he'll get some help from Hamilton is anyone's guess. Hamilton, who signed a five-year, $125 million contract in the offseason, is hitting .208 after going 1 for 8 with five strikeouts in the first two games of this series. That prompted Scioscia to give him a day off Saturday for the first time this season.

Since hitting four homers at Baltimore while with Texas on May 8, Hamilton is batting .179 with 15 strikeouts in eight games versus the Orioles. He enters Sunday in a 4-for-29 slump and has gone without an extra-base hit in 18 straight games.

"He's just not where he needs to be in the batter's box," Scioscia said. "I don't think it's anything about intimidation or anything about a contract. It's about getting comfortable in the batter's box. And he will."

Hamilton has never faced Jason Hammel (4-1, 3.79), who is scheduled to take the mound as Baltimore concludes an 11-game road trip.

The Orioles improved to 6-4 on the trip Saturday as Manny Machado hit one of their three homers. He's batting .393 with 10 extra-base hits while hitting safely in 12 of his last 13 games.

Pearce went 3 for 4 in only his 11th game this season.

"That's what this team's about - guys getting an opportunity and seizing it," said Tommy Hunter, Saturday's winning pitcher. "It's going to be a different guy every day."

Baltimore has won Hammel's last four starts, and he's 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA in that span but wasn't happy with his performance Tuesday. He failed to go six innings for the first time in six outings but beat Seattle, getting pulled after allowing the first three batters to reach in the sixth and charged with two runs in a 7-2 victory.

"I'm obviously very frustrated because that's not the way to build a winning team, because after a while those innings will start to chew up a bullpen no matter how good they are," Hammel said.

The right-hander has lost each of his three career starts versus the Angels while posting a 7.31 ERA. Hammel has received only one run of support in 16 innings over those outings, and he gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-0 loss in his most recent start versus Los Angeles on July 7.

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