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Angels hope for success with Saunders

Angels hope for success with Saunders

Joe Saunders has been a good-luck charm for the Angels this season. They hope their fortune with the young southpaw on the mound extends to Fenway Park and a matchup with wily veteran Julian Tavarez in the finale of a four-game series.

The Angels have won eight of Saunders' 10 starts this season, his winning streak finally ending in Toronto, where the Angels ran into Roy Halladay, who was on top of his game. They've had uncommon success with Saunders on the mound the past two seasons, winning 18 of his 23 starts. He hasn't given up more than four runs in any of his 10 starts, showing consistency and toughness.

"I like to work fast, throw strikes and keep my defense on its toes," Saunders said. "Maybe that has something to do with how the team has played behind me."

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As with most young pitchers, Saunders occasionally wants it a little too much, and it can throw his rhythm off. That's what happened early in his matchup with Halladay. He was rushing his delivery in the first inning, and it led to four runs -- three earned. The defense, which has played so well in his support, let him down with two errors in the inning. After that rough spot, Saunders settled into a familiar groove and pitched superbly.

Back in the starter's role that he has occupied intermittently since he left the rotation in July, Tavarez will make his 20th start. Opponents are hitting .291 against him, and he's allowed 11 homers in 110 2/3 innings.

Pitching matchup
LAA: LHP Joe Saunders (6-1, 3.50 ERA)
Saunders went 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs, to beat the Red Sox in Anaheim on Aug. 7. He's 1-0 lifetime against Boston with a 3.27 ERA across 11 innings.

BOS: RHP Julian Tavarez (6-8, 5.12 ERA)
Tavarez is 2-4 at Fenway Park this year in nine games, eight as a starter, with a 5.04 ERA. He has faced the Angels 18 times in his career, including three appearances in a row in Anaheim on Aug. 6-8, when he yielded three earned runs in three innings. He's making his first start against the Angels.

Player to watch
Maicer Izturis has been one of the Angels' most productive hitters, especially with runners in scoring position (.407 through Friday). He's 2-for-4 against Tavarez with a double and two RBIs.

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

On television
• KCOP

On radio
• KSPN, 830 AM (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Yankees (Phil Hughes, 2-1, 4.44) at Angels (Dustin Moseley, 4-2, 4.84), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Tuesday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 8-8, 4.76) at Angels (Kelvim Escobar, 13-6, 2.68), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 10-7, 3.80) at Angels (John Lackey, 15-7, 3.32), 7:05 p.m. PT

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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