Angels Invade Twin Cities

It took John Lackey a full season to win 13 games last year. The Los Angeles Angels ace has a chance to match that total much earlier this season.

The right-hander looks to remain perfect in July when he takes the mound Friday in the opener of a three-game road series against the Minnesota Twins.

Lackey (12-5, 2.98 ERA), among the major league leaders in wins, has never won more than 14 games in any of his previous five seasons. He went 13-11 in 33 starts in 2006.

Lackey allowed three earned runs and seven hits in six innings of Los Angeles' 9-5 win over Texas on Saturday to go to 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three July starts.

"I had a pretty good sweat going," Lackey said. "But sometimes you've got to grind."

Lackey is 4-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 10 starts against the Twins, but allowed six runs in seven innings in the Angels' 8-5 loss to Minnesota on June 6. He'll try to give the Angels a second straight strong outing after Kelvim Escobar threw 7 2-3 innings in a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Oddsmakers have made Los Angeles -130 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). No public betting information is currently available for this game (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Los Angeles (56-38), which increased its lead to two games over second-place Seattle in the AL West.

Garrett Anderson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Angels, who are 7-11 since winning four straight from June 20-24. Vladimir Guerrero went 1-for-3 and scored his 1,000th career run.

Anderson is batting .381 (16-for-42) since coming off the disabled list on July 3 from a hip injury.

The Angels failed to homer in a 12th straight game Thursday. Los Angeles is near the bottom of majors with 64 home runs and has not homered since July 1. The Angels went a club-record 18 consecutive games without a homer from May 16-June 2, 1976.

"I don't even think about it," said Anderson of the home run drought. "We don't have time to think about, 'Oh, we haven't hit a home run in I don't know how many games.' That never comes up."

The Angels took two of three from the Twins at home from June 4-6 and have won their last two series at the Metrodome.

Minnesota (49-46) had won four straight before suffering a three-game sweep to Detroit this week, capped by a 4-3 loss in 10 innings on Thursday. Jason Kubel went 3-for-4 with a homer for the Twins, who scored five runs in the three-game set.

"We're going to keep believing in ourselves and playing hard, and we'll see where we go from here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer did not start Thursday due to injuries, but Hunter (hamstring), who is 0-for-6 in his last four games, did pinch hit and expects to start Friday. It's uncertain if Cuddyer (jammed thumb) will be back in the lineup.

Hunter homered twice in nine at-bats against the Angels in June, while Cuddyer's three hits in 11 at-bats against Lackey have all been homers.

Carlos Silva (7-10, 4.55) looks to win his second straight start when he takes the mound for the Twins on Friday. Silva allowed three runs and two hits in 6 2-3 innings of Minnesota's 4-3 win over Oakland on Saturday after allowing 10 earned runs over his previous two starts - both losses.

"My mentality was to have a good game and keep the score low to give the opportunity for my team to win," Silva said.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA in seven games - six starts - against the Angels.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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