The Los Angeles Angels already have the first pitcher in the majors to reach five wins this season, and Dan Haren is in position to become the second.
Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox could have something to say about that.
Haren looks to continue the best start of his career when he opposes Lester in the continuation of a four-game series at Angel Stadium on Friday night.
Haren (4-0, 1.16 ERA) owns the lowest qualifying ERA in the AL, and is one win shy of tying teammate Jered Weaver for most in the majors.
"There is a lot of teams with a bunch of good pitchers and we're a few of them," Haren said. "What we hope is that when we take the mound our team expects to win. That's how I feel and I feel like when I'm on the mound that the eight other guys with me feel like we're going to win that game."
After tossing a one-hitter to beat Cleveland on Aug. 12, the right-hander turned in another impressive performance Sunday, yielding two runs with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-2 victory at Chicago.
Haren improved to 7-0 with a 1.52 ERA in his last 12 starts. He also picked up a win in relief against Toronto on April 9.
"He is on a terrific roll," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's not going to throw one-hitters every time out. You can look at a lot of different numbers, but I don't think you need numbers to see how well Dan has been pitching."
The Angels (12-7) look to rebound after falling 4-2 in 11 innings Thursday. They've lost 10 of the last 11 to the Red Sox, and all four at home.
Haren lost both starts against Boston in 2010, and is 2-5 with a 3.21 ERA in eight career games versus the Red Sox.
He may be in line for a win if the Angels show some improvement at the plate - Los Angeles is hitting .216 and has been outscored 72-38 in the last 11 meetings with Boston.
Lester (1-1, 3.20) played a part in that by beating the Angels on May 4, yielding one run and five hits in eight innings of a 5-1 victory.
A career-best 19-game winner last year, Lester seeks to build off his first victory of 2011. The left-hander allowed one run in six innings of an 8-1 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday.
Three Boston relievers combined to allowed one hit in three innings in Thursday's opener. The bullpen has posted a 1.64 ERA over the last 10 games against the Angels, and closer Jonathan Papelbon is a big reason for that.
Papelbon has a 0.64 ERA while converting all 12 of his career save chances in 21 games against Los Angeles. His last five appearances have resulted 5 1-3 scoreless innings and a save in each contest, including Thursday.
It's unclear if the Red Sox will be without Kevin Youkilis, who left in the first inning Thursday after fouling a ball of his left shin. He's hitting .214 with three homers and eight RBIs this season, and is 3 for 16 against Haren.
The Angels' Erick Aybar collected two hits in the series opener after going 0 for 4 in a loss at Texas on Wednesday in his first game since a left oblique strain landed him on the disabled list.
He's 7 for 20 with four doubles in five games, and 2 for 5 versus Lester.
The Associated Press News Service
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