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Angels beat the White Sox, 8-0, for sixth win in a row

Jered Weaver is sharp in seven innings and Erick Aybar drives in three runs to help L.A. close to within 2 1/2 games of the Texas Rangers in the AL West.

August 24, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna

Mike Scioscia was asked before the game Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox how he would prevent his players from looking ahead to this weekend in Arlington, Texas, where the Angels have a critical three-game series against the Rangers.

"What weekend?" the manager said.

The Angels lacked Scioscia's tunnel vision. Many spoke freely about the upcoming series before the game. But whatever focus they lacked in the clubhouse they had in abundance on the field.

Jered Weaver, the team's newly minted $85-million man, kept the Angels on point, allowing four hits in seven scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory over the White Sox that pushed the Angels to within 21/2 games of the Rangers in the American League West.

Weaver, who struck out eight and walked two, improved to 15-6 and lowered his major league-leading earned-run average to 2.03, as the Angels extended their season-best win streak to six games.

Sparked by Mark Trumbo's stunning walk-off two-run home run and a 2-1 victory over Texas on Aug. 18, the Angels have shaved 41/2 games off the Rangers' division lead in the last week.

Torii Hunter hit his 18th home run, a solo shot in the third, and Jeff Mathis and Erick Aybar each hit two-run doubles, as the Angels scored as many runs Wednesday as they did in Weaver's previous six games combined.

Aybar's double highlighted a four-run seventh that blew the game open and enabled Scioscia to pull Weaver after 96 pitches so he could bring back the right-hander on three days' rest Sunday against Texas.

"I wasn't too happy about being taken out early, but it was a smart play, it worked out well," said Weaver, who has thrown seven-plus innings and allowed no more than one run in a major league-best 15 games this season.

Asked about pitching on short rest, Weaver said, "I feel good, I feel strong, so let's do it."

Though it is not reflected in his line score, Weaver was erratic early Wednesday, walking two in the first three innings.

He escaped his only jam in the third when, with runners on second and third and two outs, third baseman Alberto Callaspo knocked down Paul Konerko's grounder to his left and threw to first to get the slow-footed designated hitter.

"He didn't have his good stuff for a little while, and he was a little off with his slider," Mathis, the Angels catcher, said of Weaver.

"But he made a little adjustment, found his good breaking ball and changeup, settled down and did what he does."

It was such a thorough performance by the Angels they made it tough for even their most cynical fans to bash them.

Mathis, the target of heavy criticism for his .176 average, followed Aybar's RBI single in the second with a two-out, two-run double to left-center that gave the Angels a 3-0 lead.

Vernon Wells, shredded by fans for his obscenely high salary ($23 million) and ridiculously low average (.205), singled and scored in the second, doubled in the fourth and walked and scored in the seventh to raise his average to .209.

Even much-maligned reliever Fernando Rodney threw a scoreless ninth.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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