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HOU@LAA: Tommy Hanson on his return start

Losers of five of their last six games, the Angels have dropped back into third place in the American League West, 11 games off the pace of the Rangers. Again finding themselves on a prolonged slide, perhaps a trip to Fenway Park will be just what the doctor ordered for Los Angeles.

The Angels have won their last eight games against the Red Sox, including the last six meetings in Boston.

Still trying to dig themselves out of a hole they've been in since early in the season, the Angels will aim to continue their success against the Red Sox when the two teams open up a series in Boston on Friday.

Taking the mound for Los Angeles will be Tommy Hanson, who struggled his last time out in his first start since missing almost four weeks on the restricted list to deal with a loss in the family. The right-hander allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings vs. the Astros and took the loss.

"It's not exactly the performance I would have liked, but it's good to get that over with," Hanson said after the game. "It's something to build on, and hopefully I'll be better the next time."

Opposing Hanson for the Red Sox will be Felix Doubront. After struggling through the early part of the season, the lefty has settled into a nice rhythm, going 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA in his last three starts.

"We've talked to the adjustments he and [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] have gone through prior to the Tampa start," said manager John Farrell. "I think with each successive outing, he feels more comfortable with them and he's gained confidence.

"He's attacked the strike zone, I think, with more consistency and better success. And we're seeing a better life to all his pitches through the strike zone. I know he's feeling in a better place about himself and his abilities. Like we said, we're going to need more of that [Friday]."

Angels: Williams moved to the 'pen
• Despite Jerome Williams' five straight quality starts, the Angels have moved the veteran right-hander from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

"The bottom line is we have six guys that are starting for us, that are throwing the ball well," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think Jerome has the opportunity to be a wild card, whether he's back in the rotation or helping us with an appreciable role in the bullpen. He's going to help us and right now, as we pare down to five, there's definitely a role for him in the 'pen."

Although Williams was 3-2 with a 3.08 ERA as a starter, the move did not surprise him as he expected the team to stick with its initial rotation of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Jason Vargas, Hanson and Joe Blanton.

"I've kind of seen it coming," Williams said. "But in this game you never know. All I've got to do is go out there and prepare myself in a certain way."

Williams pitched one-third of an inning out of the 'pen on Wednesday against the Cubs, retiring the only batter he faced.

Red Sox: Ellsbury returns to lineup
• After a five-game absence, Jacoby Ellsbury stepped back into the lineup on Thursday night against the Rangers at Fenway Park, returning to his customary leadoff spot and playing center field.

He made his impact immediately felt, batting 4-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored in a 6-3 victory.

Ellsbury had been in the midst of his best offensive stretch of the season when he suffered a left groin injury while setting a Red Sox record with five stolen bases on May 30 against the Phillies.

"[Wednesday] after his work on the field, he didn't experience any additional stiffness or soreness and actually throughout the game [Wednesday] night, and a couple of conversations [Wednesday] night, he felt confident he'd be able to go today, and in fact, he is," said Red Sox manager John Farrell before the game.

The club will monitor Ellsbury on a daily basis for a while, and give him a rest if needed.

Worth noting
• The Angels optioned reliever Dane De La Rosa Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday. A corresponding move will be made Friday. Comments