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Jered Weaver is the complete package in Angels' 5-1 win

Weaver figures to be the All-Star starter after improving to 11-4. Howie Kendrick extends his hitting streak to 16 games with a run-scoring double against the Seattle Mariners.

July 07, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna

The degree of difficulty for Jered Weaver on Thursday night wasn't as high as it probably will be for his next start, when the Angels right-hander is expected to oppose National League sluggers such as Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp and Lance Berkman in Tuesday night's All-Star game in Phoenix.

The Seattle Mariners are one of baseball's most impotent clubs, ranking last in the American League in batting average, runs, hits, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and 12th in home runs.

But don't let that diminish Weaver's eighth career complete game and fourth of the season, a gem in which he gave up one run and six hits, struck out six and walked one to lead the Angels to a 5-1 victory at Angel Stadium.

"Every night there's a lineup that can pressure you and beat you, and those guys have some good young hitters, they're scrappers," Manager Mike Scioscia said of the Mariners. "He had to pitch well to hold them down."

Weaver threw 116 pitches, 76 for strikes, to improve to 11-4 and lower his major league-leading earned-run average to 1.86. Changing speeds and masterfully mixing his pitches, Weaver went the distance against Seattle for the second time this season.

Weaver did not throw a complete game in his first three seasons with the Angels. He threw four in 2009, none in 2010, and he doubled his career total with four before the All-Star break.

Scioscia said Weaver is "getting more pitch-efficient as he gets older," but Weaver, who lost an arbitration case with the Angels in February, joked that maybe there's another reason he's getting so deep into games.

"I don't know, maybe it's Tony [Reagins, Angels general manager] telling me in arbitration that I didn't get enough complete games," Weaver said. "Just kidding."

The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the third on Brendan Ryan's RBI single, but the Angels countered with three in the bottom of the third, which featured Bobby Abreu's RBI single (giving him 1,300 career RBIs), Vernon Wells' sacrifice fly and Howie Kendrick's RBI double, which extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

Weaver had one tense moment, when the Mariners, trailing, 3-1, put runners on first and third with two out in the seventh.

He fell behind Carlos Peguero, but threw a breaking ball on a 3-and-1 count for a called strike, an 88-mph fastball that was fouled off and struck out Peguero on a 76-mph changeup.

"That was a tough at-bat, coming back from a 3-1 count," Scioscia said. "He threw a 3-2 fastball and a 3-2 changeup right behind it to get a punch-out. Jered really mixed his pitches well."

The Angels tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth when Erick Aybar doubled, Peter Bourjos hit an RBI double to left, and Jeff Mathis hit an RBI single to center.

But Bourjos' right hamstring tightened as he jammed on the brakes around second, and the speedy center fielder was pulled from the game.

The Angels are expected to hold him out of the final three games before the break, which would give him a full week to heal before next weekend's series in Oakland.

Weaver will be busy over the break. With Detroit ace Justin Verlander, his stiffest competition for Tuesday's start, pitching Sunday, making him ineligible to appear in the All-Star game, Weaver appears to be the favorite to get the prestigious start.

"It would be very cool," Weaver said. "I've grown up seeing Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens, guys like that, in those situations. To be able to start would be very gratifying."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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