Oakland Athletics (78-54) at LA Angels of Anaheim (79-53), 10:05 p.m. (ET)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will try to put some distance between themselves and the Oakland Athletics on Thursday when the top two teams in the American League West kick off a four-game series at Angel Stadium.

Los Angeles comes into the crucial series holding a one-game edge on the A's. These teams met last weekend in Oakland with the A's taking two of three. In fact, Oakland has won eight of the 12 matchups between the two this season.

"The division lead is important after the last game of the season," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's when it becomes important. I think the standings are a distraction right now."

Los Angeles recovered from the series loss in Oakland to win the final two games of its three-game set with the Miami Marlins. On Wednesday, Mike Trout his 30th home run of the season and had two RBI and two runs scored to lead the Angels to a 6-1 win.

"It's always cool to reach 30. But we have other things in our minds, like trying to reach the playoffs," said Trout, who's 9-for-24 with three homers, five RBI and seven runs over the last six games. "We're still got a month left, so the only thing that's important is winning games."

Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton each knocked in a run for the Angels, who have won seven of 10.

Hector Santiago (4-7) grabbed the win after going 5 2/3 innings and allowing one run on three hits and two walks while striking out six.

"Everything was working tonight," said Santiago. "I got ahead in counts and got easy outs."

Getting the call for the Angels on Thursday will be left-hander C.J. Wilson, who has won his last two decisions and has allowed just four runs over his last three starts. Wilson did not get a decision against the A's on Saturday, but pitched well, surrendering just a run in 6 1/3 innings of his team's 2-1 loss.

"When you have that many games against a competitive team, whether you're in first or second, it's always going to come down to the end," Wilson said. "You'd obviously like to win the rest of them. That's just kind of a no- brainer. But they're not going to roll over."

Wilson, who is 10-8 on the year with a 4.45 ERA, has pitched to a 1.96 ERA over his last three outings, but he owns a 7.46 mark in his last five starts at home.

Oakland, meanwhile, turns to right-hander Sonny Gray, who snapped a four-game losing streak on Friday with a win over the Angels. Gray gave up three runs and six hits in 8 1/3 innings of that one and improved to 13-7 to go along with a 3.00 ERA.

He is 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four games (3 starts) versus the Halos.

Oakland kept pace with the Angels with this week and took two of three from the lowly Houston Astros. The A's took Wednesday's rubber match, as Sam Fuld capped a three-run ninth inning with a home run in Oakland's 5-4 triumph.

"You don't expect him to hit home runs to put you ahead, but he's a great fit for us," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of Fuld.

Dan Otero (8-1) earned the win after working out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth to keep it a one-run game and Eric O'Flaherty allowed a homer to Chris Carter in the ninth, but still managed to nail down the first save of his career.

Gulfport
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