Sampson Sailing

Not much has slowed down John Lackey and the red-hot Los Angeles Angels lately.

Lackey tries to become the majors' first 11-game winner when the Angels open a nine-game homestand with a three-game series against the Houston Astros on Monday.

The AL West-leading Angels (44-26) are a major league-best 27-10 since May 9, and have won 11 of their last 12 series.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -220 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 7.5un total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -220 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

They are tied with the New York Yankees for the best interleague record (9-3), and are coming off a 6-3 road trip against NL teams.

Los Angeles defeated the crosstown rival Dodgers 10-4 on Sunday, as Orlando Cabrera and Howie Kendrick each had three hits. Cabrera is batting .436 (24-for-55) with 12 runs and 11 RBIs in his last 12 games.

The Angels have shown they can win on the road, but have been especially tough on opponents at Angel Stadium.

Los Angeles is a major league-best 24-9 at home, winning 12 of its last 15 there. The Astros (30-39), meanwhile, are an NL-worst 13-21 on the road, losing 12 of their last 15 away from Minute Maid Park.

"It doesn't change your philosophy about bringing the game onto the field, but it's always nice after a road trip to come back home just getting into a comfortable environment," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the team's official Web site.

Lackey (10-4, 2.53 ERA) bounced back from his worst outing of the season by allowing three runs - one earned - and three hits in six innings of a 6-3 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday.

The right-hander has won six of his past seven starts, the only blemish coming in his previous outing when he gave up six runs - four earned - in an 8-5 loss to Minnesota on June 6.

Lackey has won his last three interleague starts and is 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA in nine games against the NL since the start of the 2005 season.

This will be his first career appearance against Houston.

The Astros defeated Seattle 10-3 on Sunday, and outscored the Mariners 24-8 over the weekend to sweep their first three-game series of the season.

Houston is tied with Pittsburgh and Washington for the second-worst record in the NL, and has not won four straight since May 12-16.

Mike Lamb hit a first-inning grand slam on Sunday, and is batting a gaudy .733 (11-for-15) with two homers and 10 RBIs in his last four games. He had just seven RBIs in his first 50 games of the season.

"He's coming on like we feel like he can. He won't hit like this every game, but I expect it like this on most games," Astros manager Phil Garner said, only half-joking.

Chris Sampson (6-5, 3.29) tries to continue his solid pitching when he takes the ball for Houston on Monday.

Sampson, who has made seven straight quality starts, has gone 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA and .197 opponents batting average in three June starts. He allowed two runs - both on solo homers - and three hits in seven innings, but did not receive a decision in Houston's 7-3 loss to Oakland on Wednesday.

In two career interleague starts, the right-hander is 1-0, giving up four runs in 13 2-3 innings. This will be his first career start against the Angels.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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