BOSTON — Whoever that lanky 6-foot-7 right-hander with the scraggly blond hair was on the mound in Anaheim last Friday, the Angels were glad he didn't show up in Fenway Park on Wednesday.
On a night the Angels might have lost slugger Albert Pujols to a calf injury for a few games, they regained their ace. Jered Weaver rebounded from the worst start of his career with a splendid seven-inning, two-run, seven-hit effort to lead the Angels to a 7-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Weaver, who was rocked for nine runs and eight hits in three innings of a 12-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday, improved to 16-3, and the bottom four hitters in the Angels' lineup — Howie Kendrick, Maicer Izturis, Erick Aybar and Chris Iannetta — combined to go 10 for 16 with six runs and three runs batted in.
Two straight wins in a quirky, 100-year-old stadium that has often been a house of horrors for the Angels — and two quality starts from a rotation that entered the series with a 3-7 record and 6.53 earned-run average this month — somewhat erased the sour taste of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rays.
It also put the Angels, who remain 8 1/2 games behind Texas in the American League West and 3 1/2 games behind Oakland for the second wild-card spot, in position to do something they haven't done since June 26-28: win three games in a row.
"We could have easily folded up and not played our best baseball here, but guys are motivated and know what it's going to take to get back into this," said Weaver, who struck out five, walked one and kept his ERA at 2.74. "We have too much talent in here for something special not to happen."
Whatever happens over the next day or two probably will happen without Pujols, who since May 6 is tied for first in the major leagues with 28 homers and second with 82 RBIs.
After doubling in the fourth, Pujols pulled up while running from second to third. He hobbled home on Mark Trumbo's single but was pulled from the game because of right calf tightness. Trumbo moved from left field to first, and Vernon Wells took over in left.
Pujols, who will undergo a precautionary MRI test Thursday, said the injury was not as severe as a left calf strain that sent him to the disabled list in 2008, but he said he was still "pretty sore" after the game.
"I was hoping it was just a cramp," Pujols said. "They didn't want to take the chance of sending me out there and making a little thing worse. I'll get some treatment tomorrow, and hopefully I'll feel better."
A 15-hit attack, with most of the damage coming from the bottom of the order, eased Pujols' loss. Iannetta followed hits by Izturis and Aybar with a run-scoring single in the third, and Aybar scored on Mike Trout's double-play grounder for a 2-0 lead.
Kendrick doubled and scored on Izturis' single in the fourth and led off the sixth with his seventh homer of the season, a blast over the Green Monster in left-center. Izturis and Aybar followed with singles, and both scored on Torii Hunter's two-out, two-run single to right for a 7-2 lead.
"That shows you what we can do when we have guys on base," Kendrick said. "When we were playing well, the whole lineup was hitting, top to bottom. It's huge to have a different part of the lineup put up those kinds of numbers. We're going to need everybody to do these types of things."