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Thu, May 30, 2013 - 10:05 PM ET
 

Dodgers-Angels Preview

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Jason Vargas routinely finds success in May, and the Los Angeles Angels are hoping that holds true for one more game.

Vargas looks to conclude this month with another impressive performance as the Angels try to salvage a split of this four-game Freeway Series from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.

Vargas (4-3, 3.43 ERA) is 12-4 with a 2.78 ERA and .218 opponents' average over 27 games in May since 2009. He's shown little ability to carry that momentum into June, however, going 7-9 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 starts.

The Angels are well aware of Vargas' inconsistency since he's 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts this month after going 0-3 with a 4.85 ERA in five April outings.

The left-hander has matched a career best by winning three consecutive starts, posting a 1.69 ERA while tossing at least seven innings each time.

"I don't feel any different than before," Vargas said. "It's just that the situations and outcomes have been different. I've been a little more efficient with pitch counts and controlling the count."

Vargas certainly did that Friday, yielding two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-2 win at Kansas City.

"He's using both sides of the plate and changing speeds," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He understands his stuff and is very consistent with it. He's letting his defense make plays."

Perhaps facing the Dodgers in May can help Vargas. He's surrendered 10 runs and three homers in 10 2-3 innings while losing his last two starts against them - both in June.

Continued production from Erick Aybar could also make a difference. The shortstop is 10 for 23 (.435) with six RBIs over the past six home meetings with the Dodgers. He had three hits and an RBI in Wednesday's 4-3 victory after the Angels (24-29) dropped the previous two meetings at Chavez Ravine.

Mark Trumbo connected for his team-leading 12th homer and drove in three runs in the opener of this two-game set in Anaheim. However, he owns a .192 career average with five RBIs in 14 career meetings with the Dodgers (22-29).

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is out after being put on the disabled list Thursday with a strained right hamstring suffered in Wednesday's loss.

"When you feel it grabbing, you've got to take it easy and make sure you're careful with it because it can get worse," he said following the loss Wednesday night. "I'll get an MRI (Thursday) and we'll go from there. I don't how much time I'll miss."

Playing without Kemp would normally be a huge blow to the Dodgers, but the slugger is 1 for 17 with 10 strikeouts over the past six games and has one home run since April 25.

Despite being a member of the Dodgers since 2010, Ted Lilly (0-1, 4.05) is scheduled to get his first taste of the Freeway Series. He's 0-3 with a 5.94 ERA in his last three starts against the Angels, but the most recent was a 12-0 loss with the Chicago Cubs on June 19, 2010.

The left-hander's latest trip to the mound was his first since missing nearly a month with a strained right rib cage - his second stint on the disabled list this year. Lilly yielded two runs - one earned - and two hits in 5 1-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 5-3 win over St. Louis.

Tagged: Angels, Dodgers, Ted Lilly, Jason Vargas

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