The Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox came into this season with hopes of contending for division titles, or at the very least, the AL's two wild card berths.
The clubs' playoff aspirations, though, have taken a big hit this month, but each team has a chance to help itself at the other's expense.
The Angels and Red Sox will play the first of six matchups over the next two weeks Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
With the high-profile signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles appeared ready to challenge two-time pennant winner Texas for the AL West crown. The Angels (62-60), however, have faded in that race by going 5-13 this month and head into Boston after getting swept in four home games against Tampa Bay.
Los Angeles was outscored 37-14 during that set, and home runs from Pujols and Mike Trout were hardly enough in an 8-3 defeat Sunday.
"It's baseball. Just come out Tuesday against Boston and turn the page," Trout told the team's official website. "The last couple of weeks have been tough, but you just have to stay positive."
The Red Sox (59-63) are trying to do the same after starting 6-12 this month. They fell even further behind in the AL East this weekend after dropping two of three to first-place New York.
With a 4-1 loss Sunday, Boston finished 4-6 on its season-high, 10-game road trip and dropped to 13-19 since David Ortiz hurt his right Achilles tendon. Ortiz might return during his team's seven-game homestand but likely won't be in the lineup Tuesday.
"It's difficult (to watch)," Ortiz told the team's official website. "We want to win right now pretty much in the last quarter of the season. Seeing the wild card (standings) every day, definitely, we've got to be able to win some games."
The Red Sox will try to earn those wins during a quick completion of their season series with the Angels. After the three games at Fenway, the teams will play three more in Anaheim from Aug. 28-30.
Aaron Cook (3-6, 4.58 ERA) will try to help Boston win the first of those meetings. After earning a win over Texas on Aug. 6, the right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Wednesday in Baltimore, but his throwing error led to five runs in a 5-3 defeat.
"I let the team down. We're trying to win games, and that was a game we should have won," Cook said. "It's a play I've made 100 times. I just didn't get my feet set."
He is 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in three starts against the Angels with the most recent coming June 26, 2010, while with Colorado.
Cook's counterpart in this game, Ervin Santana (6-10, 5.59), will try to win consecutive starts for the first time since mid-June and third time this season. He gave up one run, four hits and a walk over seven innings Wednesday during an 8-4 win over Cleveland.
"I know that I hadn't been pitching good, but I was just doing my best, and I just think positive every time," Santana said. "The last few outings I had been getting better, and then tonight, even better."
Santana has a 2.01 ERA over his last five starts at Fenway but has gotten one win out of his efforts. The Angels are 4-10 over their last 14 games in Boston but won their final two there last season. They're also 4-17 in the past 21 overall matchups.
Santana won't have to deal with Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford , who will have Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Thursday. Crawford, who has been playing with pain since coming off the disabled list last month, hit .282 in 31 games.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 13, 2012||C.J. Wilson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left hand|
|July 30, 2012||Mark Trumbo||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|July 30, 2012||Dan Haren||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|July 29, 2012||Mike Trout||Day-to-Day||Left knee contusion|
|July 29, 2012||Scott Downs||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|July 29, 2012||Scott Downs||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 20, 2012||Carl Crawford||Day-to-Day||Left elbow surgery|
|August 11, 2012||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Broken right wrist - out for season|
|August 10, 2012||Felix Doubront||15-Day DL||Right knee contusion|
|August 06, 2012||Vicente Padilla||15-Day DL||Strained right biceps|
|July 31, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||60-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|July 31, 2012||Josh Beckett||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
BOSTON (AP) -- The Los Angeles Angels needed a strong outing by their starter after a disastrous series that wrapped up a disappointing homestand.
They got it from Ervin Santana .
The right-hander pitched 6 1-3 solid innings and the Angels beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 on Tuesday night after getting swept in a four-game series against Tampa Bay.
"I don't see our guys tense or anything," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They're frustrated and they went through a very tough homestand. The only thing that's going to cure that is to start to play to your potential and start to win."
Mark Trumbo did that against Boston after getting just 14 hits in his previous 76 at-bats. His career-best 30th homer, a two-run shot, gave the Angels a 5-0 lead in the fifth.
"I can't pinpoint one thing," he said. "It just feels more like my swing when it's going well. I always try and drive the ball, but maybe my swing was overly aggressive. I tried to tone it down a little bit."
The Angels are four games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card berth in the AL. After three games in Boston, they have three in Detroit, which is one spot and 2 1/2 games ahead of them.
Los Angeles' playoff hopes took a beating when it went 3-7 on the homestand that ended Sunday.
But Santana's performance was a rare strong outing for the Angels' starters, who entered the game with a 6.76 ERA in in August and had allowed 27 runs in 17 1-3 innings in the series against the Rays. Santana is 3-0 in his last five starts after going 0-3 in his previous five.
"I always have confidence," he said. "When we started to score runs it just builds my confidence more."
Santana (7-10) allowed two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks, leaving after throwing 100 pitches. He gave up three runs or less for the fourth time in five starts.
Mike Trout had two hits, giving him 139 in the first 100 games of his rookie season, the most since 1964 when Tony Oliva had 144 for Minnesota. But his streak of 30 successful stolen base attempts ended in the eighth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw him out at second base on a pitchout.
Ernesto Frieri pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 16 opportunities.
Aaron Cook (3-7) was touched for five runs on 11 hits in five innings and fell to 1-6 in his last eight starts. Boston lost for the fifth time in seven games overall.
"I felt pretty good. I felt like I was making pitches. They just were finding holes with those singles," he said.
Until the homer that flew far over the left-field wall.
"Trumbo just hit a ball about as hard as you can hit one," Cook said.
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by Albert Pujols that drove in Trout, who had singled and moved to second on Cook's wild pickoff attempt. It was Trout's 97th run, breaking a tie with Joe Jackson of the Cleveland Indians for second-most runs in the first 100 games of a career since 1900. Jackson did it in 1911. Joe DiMaggio 's 100 runs in 1936 are the most.
Los Angeles added two runs on five singles in the fourth. Howie Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo got the first two hits. Erick Aybar then singled, scoring Kendrick and sending Callaspo to third. But Aybar was caught in a rundown and tagged between first and second. Chris Iannetta then singled in Callaspo.
The Angels made it 5-0 in the fifth on a single by Kendrys Morales and Trumbo's 30th homer, surpassing his personal best set last year.
The Red Sox managed just four hits in the first five innings then cut the lead to 5-2 in the sixth on Saltalamacchia's 21st homer of the year following a walk to Cody Ross . Boston scored its final run in the seventh when Scott Podsednik doubled, took third on a groundout and came home on a wild pitch by Jordan Walden .
"We have to play better collectively," Ross said. "We're just not playing together. It seems like we get chances, opportunities, have pitchers on the ropes and try to do too much."
Notes: The last time Trout was out trying to steal was June 4 against Seattle. ... All of Boston's uniformed personnel wore the No. 6 on the backs of their jerseys in honor of former Red Sox player, manager and broadcaster Johnny Pesky , who died Aug. 13 at age 92. A moment of silence was held during a pregame ceremony. ... The Red Sox placed LF Carl Crawford on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow injury, optioned 3B Danny Valencia to Triple-A Pawtucket and activated OF Daniel Nava and RHP Vicente Padilla from the disabled list. ... The teams met for the first time this season, the latest that has happened in the history of their series.