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Rangers Look To End Skid, Avoid Sweep

(Sports Network) - The odds of reaching the postseason for the LA Angels of Anaheim are not in their favor, but at least they can make some teams sweat it out. The Angels look to keep the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on their heels when they go for a three-game sweep tonight at the Big A.

Anaheim is 8 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the division and won the first two portions of this series to trim their lead atop the AL West to seven games ahead of Oakland. Tuesday's 2-0 win was made possible by starting pitcher Ervin Santana, as he delivered a five-hit shutout and struck out eight batters for his 17th win of the season (17-9).

"Me and [catcher Hank] Conger were on the same page all night," Santana said after his first shutout of the season and fifth of his career. "I threw strikes. Texas is a great team. It's not easy, and I had to stay focused. Everything was working very good."

Conger scored in the second inning when Kevin Frandsen grounded out and Hideki Matsui crossed the plate in the fourth after Conger reached on a fielder's choice. Conger also tripled for the Angels, winners of three straight.

Los Angeles starter Dan Haren hopes to tame a Rangers ballclub he hasn't fared too well against in his career this evening. Haren was the hard-luck loser in a 2-1 setback versus Texas on July 31 this season and allowed both runs and five hits in a complete-game effort. He is 3-6 with a 4.00 earned run average in 11 career starts against the Rangers.

Haren will make his 12th start for the Halos since coming over in a trade with Arizona. He is 3-4 with a 3.12 ERA and has lasted at least seven innings in each of his last four starts. He is 2-0 over the past five trips to the mound and recorded a no-decision in last Friday's 4-3 win at Tampa Bay. He allowed three runs and struck out 10 batters.

Texas once had a seemingly comfortable 10-game lead in the AL West, but now it's down to seven. While it's still likely the Rangers will soon clinch their first playoff berth since 1999, they have stumbled since a seven-game winning streak and are 1-4 on a 10-game road trip.

Colby Lewis pitched well enough for the win last night and was touched for two runs on four hits and two walks over seven innings. Lewis also fanned 10 batters in losing for the 13th time this season (11-13) for the Rangers, whose magic number for a division title remains at six.

"Colby pitched extremely well," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "We had the pitching, we just didn't get him any runs."

Before Texas heads to Oakland for a four-game series by the Bay, starting pitcher C.J. Wilson will try to salvage the finale of this set in Anaheim. Wilson is winless in his last three starts and is coming off a tough loss at Seattle last Friday. In the 2-1 defeat to the Mariners, Wilson tossed eight innings of two-run ball, walked three and struck out six.

The left-hander fell to 14-7 in 30 starts to go with a 3.21 earned run average. Wilson beat the Angels back on July 23 this season with eight scoreless innings of a 1-0 triumph. In 31 lifetime appearances (4 starts) against Anaheim, he is 2-3 with five saves and a 4.44 ERA.

Texas and Anaheim have split 14 meetings this season, but the Angels have won six of the eight matchups in southern California.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.