Texas left-hander Cliff Lee, acquired in a July 9 trade from Seattle, threw his American League-leading seventh complete game of the season Sunday, giving up four runs and nine hits in a 4-1 loss to the Angels.
Lee (9-5) has gone at least eight innings in nine straight starts, the longest such streak since Toronto's Pat Hentgen had a run of 12 straight in 1996. Lee has thrown at least eight innings in 12 of his last 13 starts.
"It's stupid," Angels pitcher Jered Weaver said in admiration of Lee's durability and reliability. "You don't see that too often."
Nor do you usually see a pitcher of Lee's caliber bounce around the way he has in 2009 and 2010, the two-time All-Star going from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Seattle to Texas.
"He's impressive, a proven guy," said Weaver, who out-pitched Lee to win Sunday. "It's weird to see him hop around to all these different teams. You don't understand why they don't lock somebody like that up."
Lee's eighth-inning walk to Alberto Callaspo was his first unintentional walk in five starts with the Rangers, snapping a string of 42 1/3 innings and 159 batters without a walk.
Lee, who has 118 strikeouts and nine walks in 147 innings this season, leads the league with a 2.51 earned-run average.
"When you go up against a guy like Lee, you know it's going to be a battle," Weaver said. "But our guys got two runs in the first, which took some pressure off me, and scraped two more runs off him. The defense played great. It was a good team win."
Weaver lost a 3-2 game to Lee in Texas on July 22 and a 4-2 game to Boston on Tuesday. In addition to a lack of run support, several defensive plays were not made behind him in the two games, and Weaver's frustration showed at times on the mound.
"I'm a competitor, and anything that doesn't go right for us, I get a little upset over," Weaver said. "But I've come to the conclusion that I can only do what I can do out there. I have to keep battling and let the chips fall where they may. That's going to be my approach from here until the end of my career."
Stick to the ribs
Catcher Jeff Mathis, his ribs still sore from a collision at home plate with Chris Davis in Texas on July 25, sat out his fourth straight game Sunday.
Mathis, who withstood the violent hit to record the out in the second inning of a 6-4 loss, played Monday and Tuesday against Boston but was in too much pain to remain in the lineup.
"Everything was sore for the next couple of days, and it wasn't getting any better," Mathis said. "He put a good lick on me, and he is not a small guy. But it was a clean hit. Nothing is broken, and I'm thankful for that."
Reliever Kevin Jepsen, who was shut down for five days last September because of shoulder tendinitis, has been unavailable since Wednesday because of what Manager Mike Scioscia called a "tired shoulder."
The hard-throwing right-hander, who is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 34 games, is expected to be available when the Angels begin a three-game series in Baltimore on Tuesday.
Scott Kazmir, on the disabled list since July 11 because of shoulder fatigue, is scheduled for a four-inning, 60-pitch simulated game Monday at the team's spring-training complex in Tempe, Ariz.
Barring a setback, the left-hander, who is 7-9 with a 6.92 ERA, will return to the rotation Saturday in Detroit.
Right-hander Trevor Bell will start Tuesday in Baltimore in place of the injured Joel Pineiro, who is out for six to eight weeks because of a rib-cage strain.... Reliever Jason Bulger, on the DL since June 11 because of a right shoulder strain, will start a minor league rehabilitation assignment Tuesday at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
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