In the midst of a playoff race, the LA Angels of Anaheim could take a step back with C.J. Wilson scheduled to start this evening's second test of a three-game home series versus the Boston Red Sox.
The Angels are 4 1/2 games off the lead in the American League Wild Card standings, but are sending a struggling Wilson to the mound at the Big A. Wilson is 0-5 with a 6.09 earned run average in his last 11 starts and hasn't prevailed since June 26 at Baltimore. His previous home win was versus San Francisco on June 19.
Wilson has recorded back-to-back no-decisions and was banged around in Thursday's 14-12 win at Boston in which he allowed seven runs, six of which were earned, and eight hits in five innings. He is 9-9 with 3.83 ERA in 27 starts in his first season with Anaheim and 3-5 in 11 home outings. Wilson has enjoyed success against the Red Sox in his career, going 4-1 in 18 games (6 starts), and is 4-0 in the past six meetings with Boston since 2010.
Angels ace Jered Weaver was gunning for his 17th win of the season in last night's 6-5 win, but did not factor in the outcome after he was reached for five runs -- four earned -- in seven innings. Reliever Kevin Jepsen posted the win with a scoreless ninth inning.
Jepsen was the winner after Mike Trout's RBI single and Torii Hunter's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning. Trout ended 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI, while Albert Pujols returned to the lineup and finished with two hits, including a home run. Pujols was sidelined since last Wednesday because of right calf inflammation suffered in a 7-3 win at Boston.
"Every game is big for us," Trout said after the Angels ended a four-game home slide. "We just have to take it one game at a time and push this race to the playoffs."
The 21-year-old Trout became the youngest player ever with at least 25 homers and 40 steals in a season. Cesar Cedeno (1973) was the only player in history to do so before turning 23 years old.
Boston is not helping its cause right now and opened a nine-game road trip last night on a down note. The club is 10 games off the lead in the Wild Card race and entered Tuesday's game having won two straight and three of four.
Alfredo Aceves was back in action for the Red Sox after serving a three-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, but allowed both runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Clay Buchholz tossed the first seven innings and permitted four runs and six hits.
"I thought we played a good game. We scored enough runs to win, but we couldn't hold on tonight," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, while Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits and scored twice in defeat. Ellsbury has two or more hits in six straight games.
The Red Sox will also visit Oakland and Seattle on their nine-day trek, and Zach Stewart can provide some relief when he takes the mound Wednesday. Stewart will make his Boston debut after he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in part of the Kevin Youkilis deal, and spent the past two months with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Stewart went 3-5 with a 3.94 earned run average in 11 starts with Pawtucket and was 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 18 games (1 start) with Chicago before heading to the AL East. He last pitched in the majors during a 12-3 pounding by the Cubs on June 18 and was tagged for six runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The right-hander lost his only appearance to the Angels in an 8-0 defeat last Aug. 24, when he gave up seven runs in six innings.
The Angels recently swept the Red Sox in three games at Fenway Park from Aug. 21-23, and halted a seven-game home losing streak in this series last night. It was Boston's first loss at Angel Stadium since May 14, 2009.