Wins leader Lackey looks for No. 11

Wins leader Lackey looks for No. 11 vs. Astros

The next leg of the Interleague battle will be waged at home. After playing nine games in 10 days at foreign ballparks made all the more hostile by their National League affiliations, the Angels will head back to Anaheim for a nine-game homestand. They will host Houston and Pittsburgh for a pair of three-game series before facing off against Kansas City, their first American League opponent since playing Minnesota on June 6.

"It doesn't change your philosophy about bringing the game onto the field, but it's always nice after a road trip to come back home just getting into a comfortable environment," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

The Halos seem to be comfortable in any environment lately, posting a Major League-best 26-10 mark since May 9. They have been in first place for 53 consecutive days and 66 of 76 days this season, while amassing 44 wins to tie Boston for tops in the Majors. Their 44-26 mark after 70 games is the best in club history. Especially dangerous at home, the Angels boast a 24-9 record at the Big A.

Houston, by comparison, is eight games behind NL Central leader Milwaukee, sitting in fourth place at 30-39 with a paltry 13-21 road mark. But the Astros are still riding the momentum of their recent three-game sweep of Seattle, outscoring the Mariners, 24-8, over the course of the series.

Pitching matchup
John Lackey, RHP (10-4, 2.53)
Having become the Majors' first 10-game winner in Cincinnati, Lackey now tries to be the first to 11. An early Cy Young Award contender, Lackey gave up three runs (one earned) in six innings against the Reds, holding them to three hits, a walk and two hit-batsmen while striking out four. A native of Abilene, Texas, Lackey is facing the Astros for the first time.

Chris Sampson, RHP (6-5, 3.29)
Sampson was very good again in his second Interleague start, allowing two runs on just three hits in seven innings against Oakland. He has the best ERA of any Houston starter that's been healthy for the entire season, and he has now tossed seven consecutive quality starts. This will be his first career appearance against the Angels.

Player to watch
A terror in the batter's box this season, center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. has hit safely in 15 of his last 20 games with 30 RBIs in his last 34 games. In the 31 games where he batted from the cleanup spot -- he started the season as the leadoff hitter -- the Angels have gone 23-8. He ranks second on the team with 42 runs scored.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN-HD

On radio
• KSPN, 830 AM (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Angels (Bartolo Colon, 6-2, 5.73) vs. Astros (Jason Jennings, 0-1, 3.18), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Angels (Ervin Santana, 5-7, 5.04) vs. Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 4-6, 4.19), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Off-day

Larry Santana is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.