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Angels-Athletics Preview

Struggling to consistently generate offense, the Los Angeles Angels likely can't afford to be without slugger Albert Pujols for too long.

The visiting Angels won't have the veteran first baseman for at least Thursday's series finale against the Oakland Athletics.

As Los Angeles (10-11) enjoyed some much-needed success at the plate Wednesday, Pujols left after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring while running to first base on a bloop single in the sixth inning of the 6-3 victory.

Though Pujols is batting .208, he's 5 for 15 in the last four games.

''He didn't really feel a pop. It was more a little bit crampish,'' said manager Mike Scioscia, who doesn't believe Pujols is headed to the disabled list. "We're definitely going to error on the side of caution. Right now we're optimistic that it's not going to be too long.''

A lengthy stretch without Pujols would obviously be a big blow for Los Angeles, which ranks near the bottom of the majors batting .226 and has scored more than four runs twice in 11 games.

However, the Angels hope reigning AL MVP Mike Trout is about to heat up after he belted a solo homer and a two-run double for his first multi-hit game since April 17.

"Everybody has a role on this team and if we stay with that approach we'll be fine," said Trout, who was 5 for 34 with a homer, two RBIs and 12 strikeouts in the previous 10 games.

Teammate Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.75 ERA) allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings of Friday's 3-2 victory over Texas to earn his first win since Aug. 15. The right-hander suffered a season-ending knee injury in his next start.

Richards, who endured a rigorous rehab to return to the mound April 19, has declared himself fully healthy after two starts.

"One hundred percent," Richards told MLB's official website. "I worked very hard over the offseason to get back to where I am now. For anybody that thought it wasn't going to be that easy, hard work goes a long way."

Richards, however, hasn't had always had an easy time while going 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA in four starts at Oakland.

Josh Reddick is 5 for 12 and walked three times against Richards. He's 11 for 22 with seven RBIs while hitting safely in seven consecutive contests.

A loser in five of six, Oakland (9-13) still might have a decent chance to take this series with Jesse Chavez (0-1, 0.71) facing Los Angeles for a second straight start.

After his first four 2015 appearances came in relief, Chavez yielded a two-run homer to Kole Calhoun over seven innings for the Angels' lone hit in last Thursday's 2-0 defeat. Though the right-hander is 0-2 in three starts versus Los Angeles, he's posted a 1.89 ERA and received two runs of support.

Chavez remains in the rotation for the time being after Kendall Graveman was sent down to Triple-A Nashville.

"It's just a different title change and role," Chavez said. "That's the way I look at it. I still have to go out there and do my job and take the ball whenever I'm asked, throw strikes, and give us the best chance to win and go as deep as I can in the ballgame."

Trout is batting .308 with two homers and a double versus Chavez.

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