Angels Cruising

The Los Angeles Angels look to move 18 games over .500 for the first time in almost two years Sunday when they close out their three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Angels (40-23) have one of the best records in the majors, winning 23 of their last 30 games, including the first two of their series against the Cardinals (26-33) following Saturday's 9-3 victory.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -150 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -150 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Chone Figgins had four hits while Ervin Santana recorded his first road win of the season, allowing three runs and six hits over six innings. Santana helped his cause with a two-run double in the fourth to spark a four-run inning.

Los Angeles has scored five or more runs in six of its last seven games, and its pitchers have lasted at least six innings in eight of the last nine games to move a season-high 17 games over .500. The Angels have not been 18 games over .500 since completing the 2005 season 95-67.

Figgins has been a key contributor in the Angels' recent stretch, hitting .525 (21-for-40) over the last nine games. He also has five stolen bases during the first two games of the series and 10 in the last nine games.

"I don't think there's a guy who has made as big a turn around in his last 50 at-bats as Figgies has," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Angels' offensive outburst the last few games bodes well for Sunday's starter Jered Weaver (5-3, 3.88 ERA), who has received an average of 10.38 runs of support in his last five starts after Los Angeles averaged just 1.78 runs in his first five.

Weaver is looking to win his fifth straight decision on Sunday. The right-hander allowed one run and five hits in seven innings on Monday against the Minnesota Twins in a 16-3 victory.

Weaver told the Angels' official Web site after the game he was bothered by some back problems that originated a few weeks ago.

"In certain movements, it kind of bothers me," he said. "But it should be all right."

Weaver has never faced the Cardinals, although his brother Jeff - now with the Seattle Mariners - helped St. Louis win the 2006 World Series. Jered was presented with Jeff's World Series ring over the weekend, and the Cardinals also gave the younger Weaver what he referred to on the Angels' official Web site as a "B ring" for a family member.

Juan Encarnacion and Jim Edmonds each homered for the Cardinals, who have been outscored 47-23 in going 0-5 in interleague play.

"I'm sure they don't think we're very good," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "They haven't seen much from us."

St. Louis, which went only 5-10 against the American League in 2006, is in danger of being swept in a three-game series for the fourth time this season.

Todd Wellemeyer (1-0, 4.11) will counter Weaver for the Cardinals. The right-hander, who was acquired off waivers from the Kansas City Royals on May 15, is making his third start this season.

Wellemeyer lasted just 3 2-3 innings on Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed two runs and two hits, but walked six and did not receive a decision in the 4-3 win.

He has 3.00 ERA in two relief appearances against the Angels.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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