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HOU@LAA: Wilson whiffs nine Astros over 7 1/3 innings

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was looking for a spark. After the Halos' eight-game win streak ended two weeks ago, Scioscia watched his team drop 11 out of its past 15 games entering Wednesday's series finale against the Orioles, and he was looking for something to get the team out of its funk.

"Hopefully, it's going to come in the form of a well-played game or a good comeback win. That's what got us going before," Scioscia said before Wednesday's game. "We all see where we need to go and how we need to get there. We just have to get it done."

That's exactly what the Angels did. Trailing by two runs entering the seventh inning, the Halos scored six runs against Baltimore en route to a 9-5 win.

The Angels will try to keep that momentum going against a Yankees team searching for consistency. After suffering through a stretch where they lost six of seven games to the rival Mets and Red Sox, the Yanks won six of seven games, but then were swept in three games by the A's.

The Yankees will send left-hander Andy Pettitte (5-3, 3.82 ERA) to the mound to face the Angels, who will start C.J. Wilson (4-5, 4.02 ERA) in the opener of a three-game set in Anaheim on Friday night.

Pettitte picked up his 250th career victory in his last start, holding the Mariners to one run on three hits over 7 1/3 innings. Overall, he is 14-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 31 career starts against the Angels in his career.

But it's the offense, not the pitching, that has troubled the Yankees lately. The Bombers scored just eight runs in the three losses against the A's and struggled with runners in scoring position all series. The Yankees scored twice in the first inning Thursday and were defeated, 3-2, in 18 innings.

But are the Yankees pressing?

"I think the clubhouse is loose," Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said. "My job is to make sure that we continue to get our work in, continue to work at having good at-bats, quality at-bats. At the end of the day, if there's something that we need to address, we do that."

Yankees: Gardner stays hot on road trip
• If the Angels are going to beat the Yankees, they'll have to start at the top of their order.

Center fielder Brett Gardner has been among the hottest hitters in June, batting a robust .385 with one home run, six RBIs, seven runs and a stolen base. His nine-game hitting streak was snapped on Wednesday, but he went 2-for-6 on Thursday in the finale.

"He's really swinging the bat," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been a force at the top of our order, he's playing very good defense and running the bases. He's been locked in."

• Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells combined to go 0-for-15 with one walk on Thursday. Hafner and Wells each have a batting average near the .100 mark in their past 10 games, and their struggles have been hard to ignore.

"They started out really good and they've gone through a tough time, but there's still a lot of season left," Long said. "We're still in a good position. These guys have played a lot of baseball. They've been there. They've done that. We'll just continue to work, continue to try to find the answers to getting some of these guys back on track, and it will happen."

Angels: Blanton pushed back, won't start vs. Yankees
Joe Blanton had his next scheduled start moved back after getting roughed up for seven runs in five-plus innings against the Red Sox on Sunday, meaning he won't face the Yankees this weekend.

If Blanton stayed on his normal rotation, he would have likely pitched Friday's series opener. Instead, Scioscia said Blanton will be pushed back a few days and could pitch against the Mariners in the Angels' next series.

Blanton, who leads the Majors in losses and hits allowed this season, is 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in his career against the Yankees. Wilson, Tommy Hanson and Jered Weaver will start for the Angels this weekend.

Worth noting
• The Yankees won the season series against the Angels, 5-4, last season and have won the series two years in a row, but the Halos are 25-12 in their past 37 games against the Yankees at Angel Stadium.

• Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, recovering from a broken left ankle, has been cleared to progress into baseball activities and running, the team announced on Thursday.

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