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Hot Abreu, Angels Set To Host Blue Jays

(Sports Network) - After getting swept by the dreadful Baltimore Orioles early last week, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have responded in a positive way.

Still a long way off from a playoff berth, the Angels look to keep the drive going when they open a three-game series versus the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at the "Big A". They took two of three meetings in Detroit following the sweep by Baltimore and most recently won all three of their matchups with Kansas City.

Bobby Abreu continued to swing a hot bat for Anaheim since hitting from the leadoff spot, and he belted the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning of Wednesday's 2-1 victory over the Royals. Abreu, who's known for his patience at the plate and ability to work the count, owns two homers, three doubles and six runs batted in since switching to leadoff.

"It was a changeup, and he left it up," Abreu said of his 14th home run off of Jesse Chavez. "I wasn't looking for a home run, but I'll take it."

Erick Aybar had a sacrifice fly and Maicer Izturis recorded a team-best three hits for the Angels, who are 7 1/2 games behind Texas for the lead in the American League West Division. Anaheim is 11 games off the pace in the Wild Card standings.

Angels starter Jered Weaver pitched eight innings of one-run ball and struck out 11 batters in the no-decision. Kevin Jepsen hurled a scoreless ninth inning before closer Brian Fuentes fanned two in the 10th for the win.

Scott Kazmir hopes to duplicate Weaver's performance in Friday's series opener and will make his second start since coming off the disabled list due to arm fatigue. He previously pitched in last Saturday's 10-1 pounding of the Tigers at Comerica Park and gave up one unearned run in five innings. It was Kazmir's first start since July 10 at Oakland and he ended a personal four-game losing streak in the process.

The left-hander, who is 8-9 with a 6.57 ERA in 18 overall starts this season, has plenty of experience with Toronto from his days with the AL East's Tampa Bay Rays. Kazmir is 4-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 career starts against the Jays.

Toronto will begin a nine-game road trip against the Angels, Athletics and Red Sox tonight and has won six of its last nine games. It salvaged the finale of a three-game series versus Boston with yesterday's 6-5 victory, thanks to a four-run explosion in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Jose Bautista belted his major league-leading 36th home run of the season to lead off the ninth and Vernon Wells followed with a double before scoring on Adam Lind's ensuing single to center field. DeWayne Wise then came on as a pinch runner for Lind and later came around to score the game-tying run on a double by Edwin Encarnacion.

Fred Lewis then plated Aaron Hill, who reached on a single after Lind's hit, with the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly.

Brad Mills started for the Blue Jays and did not figure in the outcome, allowing four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Kevin Gregg was credited with the win for tossing a scoreless ninth inning.

"Everybody did their part (Thursday)," Hill said of the comeback win. "We made some plays in the field, Brad hung in there, the bullpen pitched steady and it's always nice to start off a ninth (inning) with a home run,"

Toronto's Marc Rzepczynski will make his third start of the season tonight and is 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in four games this season. He last pitched in the majors on July 21 at Kansas City and was dealt the loss for permitting five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Rzepczynski faced the Angels on August 21 of last season in a 5-4 win and earned the victory with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball.

The Angels have taken five of six matchups with Toronto this season and won twice against the Blue Jays in a three-game series at home from May 24-26.