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Angels aim to extend surge versus Orioles

Not to say the LA Angels' latest surge is all for nothing, but making up ground in the AL West seems to be a chore.

The Angels have the best record since late April at 35-19 and are still a handful of games behind the Texas Rangers in the division standings. The Rangers own a 4 1/2-game lead on the Halos, who are seeking a two-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles tonight at Camden Yards.

Anaheim opened a nine-game road trip against Baltimore, Toronto and Cleveland with last night's 7-3 victory over the Orioles and hit a season-high four home runs. Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Peter Bourjos and John Hester all homered, while Hester and Howie Kendrick had three hits apiece in the 17-hit attack.

"Going into the season we knew we had a good team. This is exactly the type of thing we expected to happen," Trumbo said of his club's success after early struggles. "We've got the right dynamics to keep on doing it until the end of the year."

The Angels have won 12 of their last 16 games and are 15-7 in June. A win tonight would give them 10 wins in the past 11 series.

C.J. Wilson received more than enough support to keep his unbeaten streak intact on Tuesday. The left-hander held Baltimore to a run and six hits in seven innings, and is 5-0 in his last seven outings. Wilson's performance is what this team needs to keep pace with Texas.

"The Rangers are a great team. They're not going to start just, like, losing all of a sudden," Wilson told the club's website. "They might have health issues, but they're still going to find guys to plug the holes up, so we have to try to win every day."

Los Angeles has a good shot at staying on track with Jered Weaver slated to take the mound Wednesday. Weaver is making his second start since returning from the disabled list with a strained lower back and seemed to be back to normal in last Wednesday's 6-0 win versus San Francisco. On a limited pitch count, Weaver tossed six scoreless innings, allowed two hits, struck out three and walked two batters.

Weaver, who threw 48 of 78 pitches for strikes, is 7-1 with a 2.40 earned run average in 12 starts and went the distance in a 6-3 win over Baltimore on April 21 at the Big A, allowing three runs and five hits with five K's. In seven career starts against the O's, Weaver is 4-3 with a 3.42 ERA.

Baltimore has dropped five of its last seven games and is now four games behind the New York Yankees for the AL East lead following Tuesday's loss. The Yankees defeated Cleveland to pad their lead.

Wilson Betemit and Steve Pearce each hit a home run and finished with two hits, as the Orioles fell to 2-2 on a nine-game homestand.

Brian Matusz started for Baltimore and was torched for five runs and a season- high 13 hits in five innings of work.

"I left a lot of balls right out over the plate tonight," Matusz admitted. "They're a great team one through nine, and I felt I was in command throughout, but the bottom line is I left too much over the plate."

The Orioles haven't had much offense lately, scoring only 20 runs in their previous 10 games. However, they are 19-8-2 in the past 29 series with 52 wins over that span. Only the Rangers and Yankees have more victories in that time.

Jason Hammel can add to that total with another solid outing tonight for the Orioles. Hammel has pitched exceptionally well at Camden Yards, going 5-0 with a 2.03 earned run average in six starts, and is 5-1 in his last six decisions. Hammel won his second straight start in Friday's 2-1 win over Washington and struck out 10 batters through eight innings. He gave up an unearned run and improved to 8-2 in 14 overall starts, while lowering his ERA to 2.61.

Hammel, who tossed the first shutout of his career on June 16 at Atlanta, will face the Angels for the third time in his career. He is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two games (one start). The right-hander's only start in this series was back in 2007 as a member of Tampa Bay.

The Orioles lost two of three games to the Angels from April 20-22 and nine of the 13 matchups in this series since the start of 2011.