ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels received a big lift from Jered Weaver in his timely return to the mound.
Weaver allowed just two hits over seven innings, helping the Angels avoid a four-game sweep by the Oakland Athletics with a 6-0 victory Thursday. Torii Hunter homered and added an RBI single in a six-run seventh.
“Obviously we didn’t want to get swept. Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to the first three games, but those guys are playing good baseball and you can’t take them lightly,” Weaver said. “These guys are always scrappy, so it’s going to be interesting down the stretch,”
Weaver (17-4) struck out nine in his first start since skipping a turn in the rotation because of biceps tendinitis, which was detected in an MRI after he was struck on his pitching arm by a line drive off the bat of Seattle’s Dustin Ackley on Sept. 2.
“There was no discomfort at all. I felt free and easy,” Weaver said after his 94-pitch effort. “It’s usually the (middle of the game) where it starts tightening up, and it’s tough to go back out there and warm up again. But I didn’t have that issue today. It’s definitely comforting, knowing that you came out of the game throwing close to a hundred pitches and still feel good.”
The only hits for the A’s were a first-inning single by Josh Reddick and a third-inning double by Jemile Weeks after center fielder Mike Trout stumbled while chasing the ball in right-center.
“I was antsy to get out there, no doubt about it,” Weaver said. “It was disappointing to miss a start, but luckily it was only one and I was able to get healthy again. It was nice to be able to throw up some zeros. I was just trying to get a feel for the game again and tried to locate. After the first strikeout you kind of feel a little bit more comfortable, and after that it’s time to go to work.”
The All-Star right-hander has four starts remaining in his attempt to become the fourth 20-game winner in Angels history and first since 2005 — when Bartolo Colon won 21 and the AL Cy Young Award. Clyde Wright had 20 wins for the 1970 club and Nolan Ryan had 22 in 1974.
The loss snapped Oakland’s 12-game road winning streak, two shy of the franchise record set in May 1931. The A’s were shut out for the 16 time this season, the most in the majors.
Brett Anderson (4-1) was charged with five runs and nine hits over 6 2-3 innings in his fifth start since returning from Tommy John surgery on July 14, 2011. The left-hander is 2-20 in 33 career starts when getting fewer than three runs of support while he is in the game, as opposed to a 23-4 record when his teammates score three or more before he departs.
“Obviously, you knew it was going to be a tough day, going up against one of the best pitchers in baseball. But you want to go out there and prove yourself and try to match him pitch for pitch,” Anderson said after his ERA rose from 0.69 to 1.93. “I was able to do that through six, but I got a little tired in the seventh and fell behind. But for the most part, I was happy with the way I battled and got out of some jams.”
Hunter led off the seventh with his 15th homer, driving a 2-0 pitch to right-center for the first home run allowed by Anderson in 27 innings this season.
“Weave pitched a tremendous game, and he was just waiting for us to do something,” Hunter said. “The home run came on a two-seam fastball away. I was kind of looking for a pitch out over the plate, but I was able to get extension and drive it. I wasn’t thinking about hitting a home run at all. I just wanted to hit it hard, get on base for the guys behind me and get something started.”
Erick Aybar doubled one out later and scored on a single by Mark Trumbo. A single by Vernon Wells and a two-out walk to Trout loaded the bases for Alberto Callaspo, who greeted Jesse Chavez with a two-run single. Trout scored his major league-leading 115th run on a passed ball by George Kottaras before Hunter added his run-scoring single.
Hunter, who was 3 for 4 in the cleanup spot with Kendrys Morales getting the day off, is batting .351 since the All-Star break with five homers and 41 RBIs.
“My whole career I’ve been a strong second-half hitter because I make adjustments. That’s what baseball is all about, and that’s what I’ve been able to do it with the Twins and with the Angels,” Hunter said. “And because we’re close to the playoffs, I think I go to another level and get that different adrenaline flow in the second half. That’s what drives me.”
Weaver recorded six of his first seven outs on strikeouts. The A’s twice got a runner as far as second, but Wells made a sprinting catch of Seth Smith’s flyball inside the left field foul line to strand Weeks in the third. Weaver stranded Josh Donaldson in the fifth by striking out Cliff Pennington and retiring Weeks on a flyball.
NOTES: A’s rookie LF Yoenis Cespedes left the game midway through the fifth inning because of a sprained right wrist. … Weaver has made 98 starts, pitched 661 1-3 innings and faced 2,624 batters since giving up his last intentional walk — to Kansas City’s Mark Teahen on Sept. 4, 2009, at Kaufman Stadium. … Four more RBIs will make Albert Pujols the 14th Angels player to drive in 100 runs and hit 30 homers in the same season. … Oakland won the season series 10-9. Pennington had only one RBI in 51 at-bats against the Halos this year, a home run Monday night against Dan Haren. … Oakland’s starters have walked three batters or fewer in 42 consecutive games, tying the Oakland record set in 2001 when Rick Peterson was the pitching coach under manager Art Howe.