Orioles-Angels Preview

The Associated Press

After a rough start to the season, the Los Angeles Angels have rebounded nicely heading into the All-Star break.

The Baltimore Orioles should be thrilled with where they stand at this point.

Looking to win a fourth consecutive home series, the Angels try to take three of four from the Orioles on Sunday.

Even with high-profile acquisitions Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles (47-38) opened the season 18-25. The Angels have since managed to turn things around by winning 29 of 42, and currently occupy one of the AL's wild card spots.

Baltimore holds the other. The Orioles (45-39) will enter the All-Star break with a winning record for the first time since they were 47-40 in 2005, as they seek to end their string of 14 consecutive losing seasons.

Baltimore, however, has dropped two of the first three in this set and looks to rebound after Jered Weaver held the club to three hits over eight innings in Saturday's 3-0 loss. Torii Hunter, Kendrys Morales and Howie Kendrick each drove in a run as Los Angeles improved to 6-2 in the season series.

Morales is batting .351 in his last 14 games, while Kendrick is hitting .354 in his last 12.

All-Star outfielder Mike Trout went 0 for 3 with a run scored for Los Angeles on Saturday, but still leads the AL with a .343 batting average.

"He's a catalyst for that team, and we've seen it since he's come up," losing Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel said. "They've been a completely different team."

Trout was still crushing minor league pitching April 22 when scheduled Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen (7-4, 3.64 ERA) allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2, 10-inning win at Los Angeles in his third major league start.

The left-hander was perfect through six innings Tuesday at Seattle before he allowed a home run. Chen wound up allowing two runs and two hits while striking out a season-high nine over 7 1-3 innings, but did not factor in the decision of the Orioles' 5-4 victory.

"He surprised me," Mariners ace Felix Hernandez told the Orioles' official website. "He was sneaky a little bit with his fastball and mixed in his breaking ball. He was unbelievable."

Jim Thome, who had one of Baltimore's three hits Saturday, is batting .368 (7 for 19) in his last five games in Anaheim.

The Orioles look to get back on track offensively Sunday against Brad Mills, who makes his Angels debut in place of the injured Dan Haren (lower back stiffness).

Acquired as part of the offseason trade that sent catcher Jeff Mathis to Toronto, Mills went 2-3 with an 8.57 ERA in 14 games - nine starts - for the Blue Jays over the past three seasons. The left-hander was 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Salt Lake City in 2012.

"I think Brad's a guy that has a little bit of experience," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website. "I think he is, right now, the best candidate we have to start on Sunday."

Both of Mills' career wins have come in his two starts against the Orioles. He allowed three runs and six hits over 12 1-3 innings in those outings

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