Weaver, Angels blank Rangers 1-0
Jul 21, 2011 at 1:00a ET
Less than two weeks after sharing a dugout and clubhouse at the All-Star game, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson were all business in a riveting duel between aces.
Weaver scattered seven hits in seven-plus innings and struck out six to win his seventh straight decision, helping the Los Angeles Angels grind out a 1-0 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday and move within three games of the AL West leaders. It took a rare error by Endy Chavez to help decide things.
"You knew it was going to be a battle because C.J. is having a great year and he's turned himself into a great pitcher,'' Weaver said. ''It's been fun going out there and battling. It's been going good so far, and hopefully we can keep it rolling and limit those runs.''
Weaver (13-4) matched his win total of last year, allowing fewer than three runs for the seventh straight outing and giving a much-needed boost to a pitching staff that had surrendered up 24 runs over its previous three games.
The right-hander reduced his major league-best ERA to 1.81 — the lowest ever by an Angels pitcher through his first 21 starts of a season. The Angels won the rubber game of the three-game set a day after rallying from a five-run deficit to end the Rangers' 12-game winning streak.
The right-hander's biggest out by far was in the sixth, when he struck out Mitch Moreland on an elevated 2-2 fastball with the bases loaded. He punched the air with his fist after walking off the mound.
''He commands all of his pitches and throws them in any count, anytime, so you had to be ready for anything,'' Moreland said. ''When you're going up against a guy like that, you've just got to grind it out. He worked both sides of the plate, threw a good changeup and spotted his heater, which made the changeup more effective. He was throwing his breaking balls for strikes, too.''
Manager Mike Scioscia lifted Weaver after Elvis Andrus led off the eighth with a single on his 122nd pitch. Scott Downs retired the next three batters and All-Star rookie Jordan Walden got three outs in the ninth for his 23rd save in 29 chances, breaking the Angels' rookie record set by Ken Tatum in 1969 — the first season that saves became an official statistic.
Wilson (10-4) held the Angels to just two hits over eight innings, struck out eight and walked one. The 30-year-old left-hander, who was pushed up day ahead of Colby Lewis so that he could face for Angels, allowed a leadoff single by rookie Mark Trumbo in the fifth and a two-out double by Maicer Izturis in the eighth.
''C.J. Wilson could have easily won this game, the way he pitched,'' said Torii Hunter, who was the Angels' designated hitter. ''He was in and out of the zone, he nibbled, he had the cutter and the two-seamer working. He rarely threw balls down the middle today. And when you hit your spots like that, not too many hitters can do anything with it.
''It's not fun at all,'' Hunter added. ''It wasn't fun for us and it wasn't fun for the Rangers. I'm sure all 18 hitters that started were frustrated. But it was an old-time pitcher's duel and everyone else loved it. We hated it.''
Weaver and Wilson both were on their game right from the start. Weaver retired the first two batters in six of the first seven innings. Andrus doubled with one out in the first and was thrown out at third by Jeff Mathis on the front end of an attempted double steal after a walk to Josh Hamilton.
''Anybody in that lineup can hurt you with a homer, so the focus was to keep those guys off the bases and getting early outs. And getting to two outs as quick as possible was huge,'' Weaver said. ''I have to give it up to the defense. They made some great plays.''
The Angels got a break in the second when rookie Mike Trout's routine flyball broke off the glove of Chavez in right-center for an error that allowed Howie Kendrick to score from second base with two outs. Kendrick was hit by a pitch in the foot and stole second.
''I felt like I made a couple of mistakes, so I wasn't perfect. If you're not perfect, you can't expect to win,'' Wilson said. ''You always need offense to score, and we just didn't score today. So whether I gave up one run or five runs, it's the same result: a loss.''
Chavez's error was his first this season and the first by any Rangers outfielder since July 3, when Hamilton overthrew catcher Yorvit Torrealba trying to keep Florida's Wes Helms from scoring on a single to center by Emilio Bonifacio, allowing allowed Bonifacio to take an extra base.
The Angels are scheduled to play 10 of their final 41 regular-season games against the Rangers, including a three-game set at Anaheim that concludes the schedule.
''It probably will,'' Manager Ron Washington said when asked if he thought the division race will go down to the wire. ''But I'm not concerned about Anaheim. I'm concerned about the Texas Rangers and who we're going to be playing next. When we see the Angels, we'll play them. But I don't watch the box scores, wondering what Anaheim is doing. And I'm quite sure they don't do the same with us.''
NOTES: Weaver is 7-0 with a 2.32 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rangers in Anaheim. ... Wilson's only complete-game victory in the majors was on May 7, 2001, when he beat Kansas City 4-1 with a five-hitter at the Ballpark in Arlington. ... Trout robbed Michael Young of extra bases with a diving catch in center field leading off the second inning. ... The Rangers are 22-15 with a .286 team batting average and averaging .5.35 runs since firing hitting coach Thad Bosley on June 8 and replacing him with Triple-A hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. Before the change, the club had a .261 average and was averaging 4.7 runs.