Angels coast to win over A's

BY foxsports • October 3, 2009

Mike Scioscia's challenge as a playoff-bound manager in the final days of the season is finding the balance in preparing his players for postseason and giving them the rest they need.

Jered Weaver only went five innings for the Angels, then Scioscia deemed that enough even though the right-hander had plenty more in him.

Juan Rivera homered to help Weaver end a three-start losing streak and Los Angeles sent the Oakland Athletics to their fifth straight loss with a 5-2 victory Friday night.

Mike Napoli doubled in a run and Torii Hunter added an RBI single for the AL West champions, who won for the fifth time in six games.

"I wanted to go one more, but it was enough work to take it into postseason and have everything feel good," said Weaver, who regained some confidence in his slider. "Hopefully I can carry this into the postseason."

Weaver (16-8), having a career year, pitched five scoreless innings in his final playoff tuneup. Having lost three straight starts for the first time in his career, the right-hander was sharp from the start. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter for the fourth time this year.

Weaver is expected to follow John Lackey in the division series against Boston, pitching Game 2 at home where he's been at his best. Weaver, who turns 27 on Sunday, bounced back from a loss to Oakland in his last start Sept. 25.

"Weave really looked good," Scioscia said. "He maintained his stuff. I think he had two more innings in him if not more. That was good to see."

Gio Gonzalez (6-7) was effective for much of the night, but not as sharp as when he beat Weaver their last time out. Gonzalez struck out a season-high 10 and didn't issue a walk for the first time this season.

"I finished strong with no walks, so I can't complain," Gonzalez said. "They did a great job and attacked right away."

Weaver has three more wins than his previous best season in 2007 and set new career highs with 33 starts, 211 innings and 174 strikeouts. His two shutouts and four complete games were also bests.

"He was definitely on top of his game," Oakland's Rajai Davis said.

After Oakland got on the board in the ninth and threatened, Brian Fuentes entered and gave up Daric Barton's run-scoring single before recording the final two outs for his majors-leading 47th save.

Bobby Abreu stole his 30th base in the eighth, joining the late Bobby Bonds as the only players in Angels' history with at least 100 RBIs and 30 steals in the same season. Bonds had 115 RBIs and 41 steals in 1977.

Abreu also reached 150 games played for the 12th straight year. Four other players have played in 150 games in 12 or more consecutive seasons: Willie Mays, Billy Williams, Pete Rose and Cal Ripken Jr.

Napoli got caught in a rundown after taking too big a lead off second base in the second inning. During that pickle, Kendry Morales headed for home and jumped over the tag by catcher Kurt Suzuki for the Angels' second run. It was ruled a double-steal and Oakland manager Bob Geren came out to argue.

"We've been working on that on the back fields of Tempe for a while and we got a chance to break that one out," Scioscia said.

Rivera connected for his 25th home run on a solo shot in the fourth, then Hunter drove in a run in the fifth.

The A's - who didn't commit an error for only the second time in 13 games - trail the season series 10-7 and have lost six of seven in Oakland after going 6-4 in Anaheim.

NOTES: Scioscia said he is still considering a couple of different playoff roster options, and carrying 12 pitchers is likely. ... The Angels plan to take Monday off completely "no matter what happens," Scioscia said, then hold their first playoff workout Tuesday. ... SS Erick Aybar (bruised right hand) and 2B Howie Kendrick are expected to be back in the Los Angeles lineup Saturday. Kendrick missed his third straight game Friday with a staph-like infection below his right knee. ... Geren plans to give backup C Landon Powell a start Saturday. ... OF Travis Buck didn't play for the A's because he wasn't feeling well. ... Oakland OF Ryan Sweeney isn't expected to play the rest of the way because of sore knees.