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Angels Look To Close Gap On Texas With 3-Game Series

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Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Jeff Gross / Getty Images

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels should be a more confident team than they were the first time they faced the Texas Rangers in 2012.

Looking to end their recent home struggles against the two-time defending AL West champions, the Angels open a three-game home set against the Rangers on Friday night.

The Angels (26-26) were last in the West and eight games behind first-place Texas after the Rangers outscored them 25-13 while taking two of three in Arlington from May 11-13. Since then, Los Angeles is 11-6 and briefly moved above .500 for the first time since opening day thanks to an eight-game winning streak that ended with a 6-5 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

That surge has moved Los Angeles up to second in the division, 5 1/2 games behind the Rangers (31-20).

“They’re not going to go away,” Texas star Josh Hamilton told the Rangers’ official website. “They’ve got good talent.

“It’s going to be fun playing them in their home park. We always enjoy going in there and playing.”

That’s because the Rangers have outscored the Angels 37-19 while winning three in a row and six of seven at Anaheim.

Los Angeles, however, is not concerned about the past.

“I don’t think you’re ever going to hear anybody (on this team) say they’re fearful of that team or think that they’re a better ballclub because that’s just not the case,” Los Angeles’ Mark Trumbo told the Angels’ official website.

Trumbo is batting .352 with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last 15 games versus Texas. He homered in each of the last two against the Rangers, and each of the last four overall. The latter leaves him one shy of the club record of five straight games with a home run set by Bobby Bonds in 1977.

“I’m just up there trying to hit the hard every time and help us win,” said Trumbo, 13 for 25 with seven RBIs in the last six games.

Teammate Albert Pujols had one home run and 12 RBIs in his first 34 games after going 2 for 12 at Texas last month. Since then, he is batting .338 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in 17 games. His 24 RBIs in May were the second most in the AL behind Hamilton’s 32.

Pujols, however, is 1 for 7 against scheduled Texas starter Colby Lewis (4-3, 3.58 ERA). The right-hander is 4-3 with a 4.26 ERA in 11 starts versus the Angels.

Lewis, who went 1-3 with a 5.23 ERA in five May starts, allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-7, 13-inning victory over Toronto on Saturday.

He’ll try to help the Rangers avoid matching a season high with their third straight defeat after they were outscored 31-11 in consecutive losses to Seattle, including 21-8 on Wednesday.

“We’ve got to live with it and move on,” manager Ron Washington said. “That’s all we can do.”

Hamilton homered three times and drove in six runs versus Los Angeles earlier this month, but he is 2 for 15 in his last four games at Anaheim.

His two hits in three career at-bats against Friday’s scheduled starter Jerome Williams (5-2, 3.81) left the park. Both came May 11, when the right-hander replaced starter and ex-Ranger C.J. Wilson before allowing six runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 10-3 loss at Arlington.

Making his first start against the Rangers, Williams yielded three runs in six innings of a 5-3 win at Seattle on Saturday to finish 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA as a starter in May.

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