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LAA@TB: Wilson fans 11 over seven innings of work

April has been unkind to both the Angels and Twins, but both teams will have the chance to close the month on a high note when they meet Monday night at Angel Stadium for the opener of a three-game series.

The Twins (6-15) and Angels (7-15), feature two of the three worst records in the American League, along with the Royals, who are tied with Minnesota for last in the Central. Los Angeles, despite high expectations, is in the West basement, 3 1/2 games behind Oakland and Seattle and much further behind Texas.

The Angels will send C.J. Wilson to the mound to oppose Nick Blackburn, and the lefty will be hoping for more support than the offense has provided of late. Following a 4-0 loss to the Indians on Sunday, the Angels have scored 11 runs over their past seven games, going 1-6.

Dan Haren's gem in a 2-1 win on Saturday provided the only victory in that span. Angels starters now have tossed at least six innings in 12 of 13 outings, with an ERA below 3.00.

"Starting pitching-wise, I think we've come around after a slow start," Haren said. "If we pitch like we're pitching right now, we're going to be in a lot of games."

Outfielder Torii Hunter drove in three of the team's four runs in three games at Cleveland and said his teammates are hitting balls hard but having no luck.

"You don't want to lose. Who wants to lose? Nobody," Hunter said. "Everybody wants to win. I don't think you get frustrated in baseball, because failure is the game. If you get frustrated in baseball, you can go home. You have to have amnesia, because you're going to play tomorrow."

The Twins did beat the Royals on Sunday to earn a two-game split, with Saturday's tilt rained out. The win snapped a six-game skid that had put Minnesota at 5-15, the worst record through 20 games in club history.

"I'm not too excited right now. Let's put it that way," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "How far do you wanna dig yourself a hole here? ... We need to win some baseball games. We need to shake hands a little bit. It's the atmosphere you worry about."

The good news for the Twins is that their deficit in the Central sits at only 5 1/2 games.

"No one is running away, but we're running the other way," Gardenhire said. "We've got to do our part to stay in there and win some baseball games. We need to do that for the sanity of some guys in the clubhouse."

Twins: Blackburn looking to get untracked
Blackburn carries a 7.53 ERA into Monday's game, having allowed 20 hits in 14 1/3 innings over three starts. Last Tuesday, the Red Sox shelled him for five runs on eight hits in three innings, during which he threw 73 pitches.

"I felt fine out there," said Blackburn, who missed his previous start with right shoulder stiffness. "My arm felt great. I was falling behind hitters and wasn't making pitches when I needed to. Nights like this are unfortunately going to happen. It wasn't a fun one. Obviously I haven't been off to a great start this season. I'm not looking to change anything right now. Just keep working."

Blackburn is 1-2 with a 7.20 ERA in three career starts at Angel Stadium, with more walks than strikeouts. Overall against the Angels, he's 1-4 with a 5.71 ERA in seven starts.

• The Twins have scored 19 runs over their past three games after totaling 21 in their previous six contests.

Angels: Picking spots for Walden
Jordan Walden, who was removed from the closer role after serving up a walk-off home run in Thursday's loss to Tampa Bay, did not pitch in the Indians series. Manager Mike Scioscia said he wants Walden on the mound in low-pressure situations, but the three games in Cleveland were decided by a total of six runs.

"You never know what the situation is going to be," Scioscia said. "The thing about putting a guy in to try to work on some stuff, sometimes that 13th inning comes up and it's a tie game and he has to pitch and go out there and get it done."

Scott Downs is closing for now and nailed down the save on Saturday. In the meantime, Scioscia said Walden simply needs a quick fix to build consistency with his mechanics so he can repeat his delivery.

• Wilson has excelled so far in an Angels uniform, compiling a 2.42 ERA in four starts, with 26 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has racked up 19 K's over his past two outings, both losses.

Worth noting
• Wilson has neutralized Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in his career, holding the two lefties to a combined 4-for-42 (.095) with four walks and eight strikeouts. Morneau has touched Wilson for a home run.

• The Angels are starting a seven-game homestand, while the Twins are beginning a six-game road trip. Comments