Sports

Angels lengthen lead in AL West

anaheim, calif. – Jered Weaver is pitching as well as he ever has, and the Los Angeles Angels will need him to continue striking out people at his current pace — because their rotation is again showing signs of decay.

Weaver pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his last 10 starts and matched a career high with his second straight 11-strikeout performance, leading the Angels to a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

Vladimir Guerrero and Erick Aybar homered for the Halos, who moved 41/2 games up on Texas in the AL West. The victory was only their third in 11 meetings this season with the Rangers.

“Those guys have had our number this year, so it was important to keep their top three guys off base,” Weaver said. “We used a lot of our relief guys yesterday, so it was important for me to pitch deep into the game. Everything feels good, mechanically and physically. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”

Weaver (12-3) won his fifth consecutive decision and eighth of nine overall, allowing two runs and five hits over 7 innings, including Hank Blalock’s two-run homer in the fifth.

“What Jered really did on the mound was incredible. I think he set the tone from the get-go by putting hitters away,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It gives us a big lift to have him come in and pitch this well against a team that has really swung the bats well against us.

“For striking out that many guys, he had a relatively low pitch count — which showed you what his command was like,” Scioscia added. “Jered was all over the outside corner and changed speeds well. He’s getting back to throwing the ball the way he’s capable of. This is the way Weave can pitch.”

Weaver allowed his only walk in the eighth to Taylor Teagarden leading off the inning. Elvis Andrus followed with a single and both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Omar Vizquel, but rookie Kevin Jepsen struck out Michael Young and retired Marlon Byrd on a flyball that right fielder Gary Matthews Jr. initially had trouble finding in the sun.

Scioscia kept the right-hander in to face Andruw Jones leading off the ninth and he struck him out. Brian Fuentes got two outs to record his 31st save in 35 chances on the eve of his 34th birthday. One of them came on a defensive gem by shortstop Aybar, who went to his left and made a diving catch on Josh Hamilton’s line drive.

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