With consecutive series wins against clubs they're chasing, the resurgent Los Angeles Angels are making some headway in their fight for a playoff berth.
Los Angeles hopes to continue the climb with its wins leader on the mound Friday night against the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a favorable six-game homestand.
After losing two of three at Safeco Field last week, the Angels were 3 1/2 behind Houston, which holds the second wild-card spot, and two behind Minnesota. They bounced back, though, by taking three of four from the Twins and two of three against the Astros.
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Los Angeles (78-74) is now just 1 1/2 back of Houston and tied with Minnesota heading into its final homestand against Seattle and last-place Oakland. The club wraps up the season with four at AL West-leading Texas, which it trails by five games.
"We're staying focused, know what we need to do, don't try to force it, just do our job and win the series," Angels slugger Albert Pujols said.
Garrett Richards (14-11, 3.73 ERA) will try to lead Los Angeles to its fifth win in the past six home meetings with the Mariners. He's been at his best at Angel Stadium, allowing three runs or less in 13 of 15 starts while going 9-4 with a 3.03 ERA.
After allowing four runs in five innings of a 10-1 loss at Seattle on Sept. 14, the right-hander gave up two runs over 8 2-3 in Saturday's 5-2 win at Minnesota. He has had trouble with his command, walking 16 over his last four starts.
The Angels have won Richards' two home outings against the Mariners this season, but lost two at Safeco. He's 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA in four career home starts in the series.
Logan Morrison and Seth Smith have both homered off Richards this year, though Nelson Cruz has gone 4 for 22 lifetime in the matchup.
Morrison hit his 17th homer and Ketel Marte extended his hitting streak to 11 games in Thursday's 10-4 loss at Kansas City, which claimed its first division title in 30 years.
"Keep working, get better and maybe we can be doing that next year," Morrison said.
The Mariners (74-79) have scored three runs or less 11 times during a 7-9 stretch against the Angels. They've hit .220 and averaged 2.8 runs while going 2-4 in Anaheim.
They'll attempt to reverse that trend for Vidal Nuno (1-3, 3.64), who has bounced in and out of the rotation over the past seven weeks. Felix Hernandez has been moved back to Saturday after experiencing elbow tightness in last Sunday's outing.
Nuno struggled Saturday when he allowed five runs while walking four over 3 1-3 innings in a 10-1 loss at Texas. He's gone 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in four road starts.
In his only career outing at Angel Stadium, the left-hander surrendered one run over 6 1-3 innings in a 9-2 win May 7, 2014.
Erick Aybar, 2 for 2 off Nuno in 2015, is hitting .358 in the season series. Mike Trout, whose only hit in six career at-bats versus Nuno left the yard, has batted .322 with six homers against the Mariners.
Seattle is trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since Aug. 19-22.