Rangers-Angels Preview

The Los Angeles Angels won't be back home until the postseason and they're planning to be there with some regularity.

Hoping to take another step toward home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the Angels try to avoid a series loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday.

AL West champion Los Angeles (96-59) owns the best record in baseball and tops the majors with a 52-28 home record. The Angels hold a 2 1/2-game lead over AL East-winning Baltimore in the race for the league's best record with seven games left in the regular season - one fewer than the Orioles.

Los Angeles maintained that advantage with Saturday's 8-5 win over Texas (61-93), pounding out 13 hits with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick accounting for eight of them.

Trout, Pujols and David Freese homered to help the Angels avoid a third straight loss and beat Texas for the 13th time in 15 meetings.

''I know from previous playoffs that it's all about the team with the momentum," said winning pitcher Jered Weaver. "So we can't take these games for granted right now. We've still got to go out there and produce and get some momentum going.''

While Pujols has reached 100 RBIs for the second time in three years with the Angels, Trout is among the favorites to join Vladimir Guerrero (2004) and Don Baylor (1979) as the only members of the franchise to win AL MVP.

Trout likely improved his chances with a two-run homer and a triple Saturday, giving him a .414 average (12 for 29) with eight extra-base hits - four homers - and nine RBIs in as many home games.

The three-time All-Star has career highs of 35 homers and 109 RBIs, the highest totals by an Angel since Guerrero had 39 homers in 2004 and 125 RBIs three years later.

Los Angeles is turning to Cory Rasmus (3-1, 2.57 ERA) for a fifth straight start after using him out of the bullpen in his first 24 appearances. The right-hander has allowed three runs over 12 innings in those starts while limiting opponents to .146 average, though he hasn't figured in a decision.

Rasmus was pulled after allowing one hit over four scoreless innings while throwing 43 pitches in Tuesday's 13-2 loss to Seattle. That came five days after he lasted 49 pitches and yielded one run and two hits in 3 1-3 innings of a 7-3 win at Texas.

"Now, I've stretched out to about 50 pitches or so and been up four innings, four up-and-down times now," Rasmus told MLB's official website. "Body-wise and bounce-back-wise, I'm able to go more and my body can take a little more. Every start, you're getting more used to doing that so your body takes to it a little better."

The Rangers, who had a seven-game winning streak end Saturday, will counter with Nick Tepesch (5-10, 4.32), who's seeking to win back-to-back starts for the first time since May 21 and 26.

The right-hander earned his first victory in seven games Tuesday, allowing three runs - one earned - in six innings of a 6-3 win at Oakland. He surrendered three runs and a career-high 10 hits over 4 2-3 innings in an 8-1 loss to the Angels on Sept. 10.

Tepesch is 0-2 with a 4.29 ERA in four career starts against the Angels.

Trout is 3 for 8 with a homer in this matchup, while Pujols (5 for 8) and Erick Aybar (5 for 10) also have fared very well.

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