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Angels' Jered Weaver baffles Twins for eight innings in 1-0 victory

Right-hander gives up only two hits and strikes out nine to become the first Angels pitcher with three consecutive scoreless home starts since Nolan Ryan in 1976-77. Albert Pujols drives in run with a single.

July 24, 2013|By Bill Shaikin

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In these long and unexpected summer days when the Angels are looking up at so many teams in the standings, they take their joy where they can find it.

On Wednesday, they found it in eight innings of brilliance and one inning of insanity.

Jered Weaver delivered the brilliance and sweated out the insanity. The Angels left the ballpark amused and relieved, heading out on the trip that could save their season after a 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

BOX SCORE: Angels 1, Minnesota 0

"It doesn't matter how we win games right now," Weaver said.

Albert Pujols singled home a run in the first inning, Weaver scattered two hits over eight innings, and then the ninth inning turned completely wacky.

Closer Ernesto Frieri got the save. His ninth inning went like this: walk, hit batter, double play, walk, strikeout. Just another Halo victory.

That was crazy enough. The double play was entirely loony.

The Twins had runners on first base and second base and none out when Justin Morneau looped a ball between the plate and the pitcher's mound, too low to properly call the ball a pop fly.

Frieri appeared a bit unsure of what to do at first, then let the ball drop. He picked up the ball and threw out Morneau at first base. The runners had not wandered far from their bases, so first baseman Mark Trumbo threw to second base, starting a rundown in which Trumbo tagged out the runner going from first to second.

Two putouts for Trumbo, two outs for the Angels, all on a heads-up play by Frieri.

"The baseball IQ to make that play, in that kind of situation, was off the charts," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said.

Except that Frieri said he didn't think about making that play until shortstop Erick Aybar and third baseman Alberto Callaspo hollered that he should let the ball drop.

"Aybar is the loudest guy we have," Frieri said. "Callaspo was screaming too, but I couldn't hear him."

The Twins were not impressed. Manager Ron Gardenhire thought the play should have been called an infield fly, meaning Morneau would have been out automatically and the runners could have hustled safely back to their bases.

Ted Barrett, the crew chief, said the ball was high enough to be called an infield fly.

"That one definitely had enough arc, but the fielder has to get comfortably underneath the ball to catch it," Barrett said. "That's the criteria that wasn't met."

Said Gardenhire: "They said the pitcher wasn't camped underneath it. Well, there's a reason why he didn't camp underneath it, because he was going to let it fall."

Frieri finished off the Twins, but he had let three batters reach base in one inning. Weaver let three batters reach base in eight innings, retiring 19 consecutive batters at one point.

Weaver (5-5) struck out a season-high nine batters and walked only one. Both hits against him were singles.

His earned-run average fell to 2.98. He has not yet pitched enough innings to qualify among league leaders, but he would rank seventh in the league, just behind former teammate John Lackey.

Weaver became the first Angels pitcher with three consecutive scoreless home starts since Nolan Ryan (1976-77).

The Angels remained 11 games behind the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.

They start a four-game series Thursday in Oakland, followed by three games in Texas against the second-place Rangers.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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