MLB

Angels-Rangers Preview

The only scheduled Cole Hamels start the Texas Rangers have lost since mid-August is the one he didn't make.

After skipping a start, the left-hander should return Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Angels to face Garrett Richards with the Rangers seeking a three-game sweep and a 15th straight victory with Hamels on the mound to match a club record.

Texas (14-10) is on the verge of a five-game streak after Saturday's 7-2 win. It secured the first series win at home against Los Angeles since a four-game sweep Sept. 26-29, 2013. The Angels (11-13) are 16-6 at Globe Life Park since the start of 2014.

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Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer in a six-run third and is 5 for 11 with six RBIs in his last three games. Prince Fielder recorded just his second multihit game and Rougned Odor had three doubles to push his average (.264) over .250 for the first time this season.

"He's a sparkplug, he's that type player, he makes a lot of stuff happen on the field," Moreland said of the second baseman.

Hamels (3-0, 2.52 ERA) didn't pitch in Monday's 3-1 home loss to the New York Yankees because of a strained left groin, and the starting staff has a 1.67 ERA in the four games since.

The Rangers have won Hamels' last 14 starts, and the streak might get a little more attention if it weren't for Jake Arrieta's 16-start run for the Chicago Cubs.

The Texas ace has gone 10-0 with a 3.03 ERA on the streak, including limiting Houston to a run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 2-1 home win April 20. It's the longest winning streak of his career, and the only time Texas has won more consecutive starts by one pitcher was 15 straight by Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins from 1978-79.

"It's big to have it for the team," Hamels told MLB's official website. "If it shows up on my record, fine, but we have had some really good wins lately, and that's something to build on. Ultimately, I'm winning games for the team."

Two of the last five starts have come against the Angels with Hamels limiting them to a run and four hits over six innings in a 4-1 win in Los Angeles on April 9. He also tossed a three-hitter against them in a 9-2 victory Oct. 4 to close out 2015.

Andrelton Simmons (2 for 21), Albert Pujols (5 for 30 with three homers), Yunel Escobar (6 for 30), C.J. Cron (0 for 6) and Johnny Giavotella (0 for 5) haven't figured him out.

The early-April win came over Richards (1-3, 2.35), but the right-hander has since improved despite control issues. He gave up four runs - two earned - and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of that loss after an equally unimpressive opener but has gone 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA in his three subsequent starts.

The victory was a 6-1 home win over Kansas City on Monday in which he gave up an unearned run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings. The problem is he's walked nine in his last two starts.

"Tonight was just a little bit shaky," Richards said. "Effectively wild, I guess."

Since the start of 2014, he's gone 7-2 with a 2.41 ERA in nine starts against the Rangers. Fielder is 9 for 23 against him, but Odor is 1 for 20 with eight strikeouts.

Richards might need to shine if the Angels can't find some run production on the road. Over a 1-4 away span, they've scored eight runs and are batting .206.

Pujols homered Saturday but hit .176 in April for his worst career month.