Rockies visit Angels looking to keep pace with Diamondbacks

The Colorado Rockies are in a much different place than the last time they visited Angel Stadium.

When the Rockies open a two-game interleague series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night, they’ll be one game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in National League West and a game behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the second NL wild card.

Colorado (71-59) had moved into a tie for first in the NL West with a 9-1 win over visiting St. Louis on Saturday night but lost 12-3 to the Cardinals on Sunday.

Arizona, meanwhile, bounced back from losses to Seattle on Friday and Saturday to beat the Mariners on Sunday and regain their one-game lead. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 2 1/2 games behind Arizona.

“Once we start the game, we’re just trying to win and not worry about anybody else, but it’s hard not to look at the scoreboard,” Colorado second baseman DJ LeMahieu told reporters after Sunday’s loss.

The last time the Rockies visited Anaheim was May 12-13, 2015. They lost both games to extend their losing streak to 11 games, which would match their longest since a 13-game skid in 1993.

It’s a different story this time around.

The Angels (63-68) are trying to avoid losing a season-high seven straight games, and they’ve dropped eight of their past nine overall to fall a season-low five games below .500.

Colorado shortstop Trevor Story told reporters on Sunday that the Rockies won’t be taking anyone lightly.

“Every game matters,” he said. “That’s fun. That’s exciting. That’s why we play, so we want to be the last team standing.”

Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado is an Orange County native who grew up about 18 miles south of Angel Stadium. He made his only two appearances in Anaheim three years ago, going 2-for-8 in the series with a double.

Arenado is hitting .333 in August with three home runs and 11 RBIs, raising his season totals to .311 with 31 home runs and 90 RBIs. By comparison, Angels center fielder Mike Trout, who has played 11 less games than Arenado, is hitting .311 with 30 home runs and 60 RBIs.

Colorado right-hander Jon Gray is scheduled to start the series opener.

Since his last loss on June 12 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Gray is 4-0 in 10 starts with a 3.48 ERA. Colorado’s offense has averaged 6.6 runs in those 10 starts.

Gray (10-7, 4.67 ERA) made his only career appearance against the Angels on May 8 in Denver, shutting them out for seven innings and allowing four hits in the 4-2 win.

The Angels are scheduled to start Odrisamer Despaigne (2-2, 6.35), a journeyman right-hander who has mostly pitched out of the bullpen in his career. Los Angeles was able to get six innings out of converted reliever Felix Pena in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Astros, allowing manager Mike Scioscia to rest some of his taxed relievers.

“We’ve got nine (relievers) down there now, so you’ve kind of got depth in numbers,” he said. “We’re going to need all of them.”

Despaigne is 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA in seven career appearances against Colorado, including three starts. He last faced the Rockies on Sept. 25 as a member of the Miami Marlins, allowing two runs in six innings of a 5-4 victory.