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Angels sweep White Sox, stay 2 1/2 back in wild card

Albert Pujols breaks a scoreless tie with a two-run double in the sixth inning and Kendrys Morales follows with a two-run homer. Jered Weaver gets his 19th win in the 4-1 victory.

September 23, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Angels ace Jered Weaver collected a career-high 19th victory with the win over the White Sox on Sunday.
Angels ace Jered Weaver collected a career-high 19th victory with the win… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

It might have taken awhile, but Albert Pujols’ numbers are where the Angels hoped they’d be this time of season.

Pujols broke a scoreless tie Sunday with a two-run, sixth-inning double that moved him past the 100-runs-batted-in threshold for the 11th time in 12 seasons, and the Angels completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox, 4-1.

Kendrys Morales followed Pujols’ double with a two-run home run to right field and Angels ace Jered Weaver claimed his career-high 19th victory by scattering five hits and giving up one run over 6 1/3 innings.

The victory keeps the Angels (84-69) 2 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics (86-66) for the American League’s second wild-card playoff spot with nine games remaining.

Oakland edged the New York Yankees, 5-4, on Sunday and travels to play first-place Texas on Monday,  while the Angels get a day off  before a three-game home series against the last-place Seattle Mariners.

Pujols had three hits Sunday, raising his batting average to .287.

The sixth-inning double was his 46th -- second best in the American League -- and gives him 101 RBIs.

Solid numbers, especially for a season that began with Pujols’ homerless April and much angst about the Angels’ 10-year, $240-million investment in the free-agent slugger who was a three-time National League  most valuable player in St. Louis.

Pujols also has 30 home runs, marking his seventh 30-homer, 40-double, 100-RBI campaign.

Weaver (19-4) strayed into a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first inning when Kevin Youkilis singled, Adam Dunn sliced an opposite-field double and Paul Konerko walked.

That set up an 11-pitch battle against Chicago’s Alex Rios that Weaver won by striking out a swinging Rios on a 79-mph slider. The right-hander then got A.J. Pierzynski to ground into a fielder’s choice at shortstop.

The effort exhausted 33 pitches, however.

Weaver reverted in the second inning to the form that has made him the American League wins and batting-average-against leader  and began a streak of 12 consecutive outs that lasted until Konerko singled with two outs in the sixth.

When Weaver retired Rios to end Chicago’s sixth, though, his pitch count stood at 104.

And the game was scoreless.

White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (10-11) didn’t let an Angel reach second base until  Howie Kendrick doubled in the fifth inning, but Floyd responded with the seventh of his eight strikeouts.

AL runs leader Mike Trout then drew a one-out walk off Floyd in the sixth inning and Torii Hunter singled to bring up Pujols, whose double bounced hard off the left-field wall.

Weaver gave up a double to Pierzynski in the seventh inning. After a wild pitch, Dayan Viciedo hit a sacrifice fly to center that made the score 4-1.

Angels closer Ernesto Frieri retired one batter in the ninth for his 21st save.

Chicago’s loss leaves it in a virtual tie with Detroit for the AL Central lead pending the outcome of the Tigers’ home game Sunday night against Minnesota.

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