Angels starter Jered Weaver gave up one run and four hits in eight innings… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
Jered Weaver downplayed the speculation a week and a half ago when reporters compared his statistics with other American League pitchers, mapped out the Angels' rotation and surmised he was a leading candidate to start the July 12 All-Star game in Phoenix.
"Oh God," Weaver said June 22, "I think we're a little ways away from that."
In giving up one run and four hits in eight innings of a 7-1 interleague victory over the Dodgers in Angel Stadium on Saturday night, Weaver may have solidified his first All-Star game start.
Weaver improved to 10-4 and lowered his major league-best earned-run average to 1.92, joining Frank Tanana as the only two pitchers in club history with at least 10 victories and a sub-2.00 ERA on or before July 2. Tanana had 11 victories and a 1.82 ERA in 1977.
The 28-year-old right-hander ranks second in the AL in innings (1311/3), fifth in strikeouts (114), third in opponents average (.194) and has given up one earned run or less in 11 of 18 starts.
"It was fun to watch guys like Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens start the All-Star game as I was growing up; having a chance to do that would be a great," said Weaver, who struck out eight and walked two. "But I'm not really worried about that right now. If it happens, it happens."
Weaver's next start, his last before the break, will be Thursday night against Seattle. That would put him in line to start the All-Star game on his regular four days' rest.
One of Weaver's stiffest competitors for the start, Detroit's Justin Verlander, is scheduled to start July 10, which would make him ineligible to pitch in the All-Star game.
"It's a great honor, and I'm sure he's going to get consideration," Manager Mike Scioscia said of Weaver. "It's certainly something for him to look forward to."
Vernon Wells capped a three-run third inning with a two-run home run against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, and Bobby Abreu capped a three-run fourth with a two-run single, providing Weaver with a rare bounty of runs.
Weaver struck out Andre Ethier looking with a 92-mph fastball to end the first inning and Matt Kemp swinging with a 92-mph fastball to start the second. With two on in the fourth, he got Kemp to ground into a double play.
James Loney doubled and scored on Trent Oeltjen's sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. The Dodgers put runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh, but Weaver struck out Oeltjen on a breaking ball.
"It's the same as when I faced him — he throws a variety of pitches for strikes, and he can throw them any time he wants to," said Wells, the former Toronto outfielder who is glad he no longer has to hit against Weaver.
"He keeps you off balance. He rides that fastball up in the zone. He gives you all kinds of problems as a hitter. Year by year, he's figured out a little more about this game, and he's become more of a pitcher than a thrower."
Weaver was as effective Saturday night as he was June 26 in Dodger Stadium, when he gave up one run and seven hits in seven innings.
"It's tough," Weaver said. "You think you need to change some things up, but I've learned that you just have to keep pitching to your strengths and hit their weaknesses."
Kershaw threw a complete game to beat the Angels on June 26, extending his winning streak to six games, but he gave up six earned runs and nine hits in six innings Saturday night.
Kershaw (8-4, 3.23 ERA) struck out 10 to push his National League-leading total to 138, but he couldn't subdue an Angels offense that scored one run in its previous 18 innings.
Jeff Mathis doubled to lead off the third and scored on Erick Aybar's fielder's-choice. With two outs, Wells, who homered against Kershaw on June 26, lined a two-run homer to left, his 11th, for a 3-0 lead.
With two on and two outs in the fourth, Aybar hit a run-scoring single to left and Abreu hit two-run single to center to make it 6-0.
"Obviously the pitch to Wells was a misfire," Kershaw said. "Overall, I felt OK tonight. It's just when you don't have your best stuff, especially against a guy like Weav, it's a guaranteed loss if you give up six runs."