A's Not Feeling Angelic

The Los Angeles Angels lead the AL West, while the Oakland Athletics are under .500 this late in a season for the first time since 1998. The Angels, though, haven't fared well against their instate rivals.

Los Angeles will turn to John Lackey when he faces AL ERA leader Dan Haren in the finale of a four-game series at McAfee Coliseum on Sunday.

Lackey (13-6, 3.07 ERA) and Haren (13-3, 2.44) each will try and tie Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia and Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs for the major league lead in wins.

The Angels (63-46) have the second-best record in baseball and an 11-game lead over Oakland (53-58) in the division. The Athletics, though, have had the edge in the season series, winning eight of 12 including the last two games of this weekend's series.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Los Angeles -108 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -108 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Lackey will try to build off his first shutout win in more than a year. He held Seattle to seven hits in an 8-0 win Tuesday - his first shutout win since blanking Oakland and Tampa Bay in back-to-back starts July 7-14, 2006.

"That was probably the best fastball I've thrown in a month," Lackey told the Angels' official Web site.

The right-hander is 10-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 21 career starts against the Athletics, including a 1-1 mark with a 3.15 ERA in three starts this season.

Haren, meanwhile, has allowed only one earned run in two starts spanning 14 innings against the Angels this season. He is 1-1 with a 0.64 ERA in those games, but is 3-5 with a 4.05 ERA in nine career starts against the Angels.

Haren has won three straight starts after limiting Detroit to two earned runs in six innings of a 7-3 victory on Tuesday. It's the right-hander's fourth three-start win streak this season, but he hasn't won four consecutive outings since a six-game run July 26-Aug. 21, 2006.

"Any time he goes out there, he gives us a chance to win," Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki told the Athletics' official Web site.

The Athletics managed only two hits on Saturday, but one of them was pinch hitter Travis Buck's tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh, which led the A's to a 2-1 victory. It was Oakland's fourth win in five games - all against Detroit and Los Angeles, two of the AL's top four teams.

"It's nice to get a win against anybody," said A's starter Joe Blanton, who had lost his last four decisions. "It's big to win games like these."

The Angels lost for the fourth time in six games on their current road trip, which concludes Sunday. They had seven hits in the first four innings, but managed only one after that. Los Angeles went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and is 6-for-43 (.140) with runners on second or third during the trip.

"When guys are struggling at the plate they sometimes get a little too aggressive at the plate," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's no pill that cures a whole team."

Los Angeles' Garret Anderson, batting .317 since he came off the disabled list July 3, is 9-for-24 (.375) with two home runs lifetime against Haren.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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