ANAHEIM, Calif. — Texas is the only team to beat Jered Weaver this season, so the Angels’ ace had even more than the obvious motivations when Los Angeles opened its key weekend showdown with the Rangers.
Two of Weaver’s fellow Angels All-Stars were similarly eager to begin clawing back in the division race.
Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout homered, Weaver pitched seven resilient innings to earn his 12th win, and Los Angeles beat Texas 6-1 on Friday night to trim the Rangers’ American League West lead to five games.
Erick Aybar hit a two-run double and Howie Kendrick drove in two early runs for the Angels, who snapped right back into top form for just their third win in eight games since the All-Star break.
“We’re only five games back now, so it’s real big,” said Trout, who scored a run in his 12th straight game, one off the AL rookie record. “Every game against them down the stretch is going to be big. We’re going to play them a lot, so we just have to keep making plays.”
Trumbo hit his 27th homer and Trout added his 15th, while Weaver (12-1) persevered through 116 pitches and repeated trouble to win his sixth straight start and seventh consecutive decision since May 13, when Texas handed him his only defeat.
“I’ve learned over the years that you can’t try to pump yourself up before a game,” Weaver said. “But obviously it’s exciting when the fans are pumped. You’re going against your division rival and trying to pick up some games against them, and the best way to do that is to beat them.”
Weaver yielded six hits and struck out four while improving to 7-0 this season at home, although his home ERA rose from a majors-best 0.58 to 0.67.
Elvis Andrus homered in the first inning for the Rangers, who had won five of seven.
Derek Holland (6-5) lost his first decision since May 30, giving up nine hits and six runs with no strikeouts. He gave up Trumbo’s sixth homer in nine days after an 11-pitch at-bat, culminating in a fearsome line drive over the fence in left-center in the sixth.
“If it had hit the wall, it would have taken it down,” Holland said. “I mean, he made solid contact. He was right on it.”
“That ball was on a rope,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Trumbo’s shot. “You’re not going to see a ball hit harder than that. It was incredible.”
Trout chased Holland with a two-out, opposite-field homer in the seventh. The AL batting leader scored twice, closing in on a 62-year-old league record and the Angels’ franchise record for any player.
Texas entered the series with the majors’ second-best record and a six-game lead, its largest of July. The Rangers have won the past two division titles and AL pennants, usurping the Angels atop the division they had won in five of the previous six years.
And this series is just the start of what could be a scintillating stretch run out West. The rivals meet 10 more times after this weekend.
The Rangers couldn’t solve Weaver to keep pace with the Angels, and their biggest bat has been mostly silent lately. Hamilton grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the third before slowing his 4-for-34 skid with an eighth-inning single.
“A little bit of a slide? How about the last month and a half?” Hamilton asked. “I mean, you’ve got periods like this during the season, and if you don’t, you’ve had a season that you might not ever have again. But I’m starting to come out of it. I’m still tinkering with a couple of different things. It’s not a big deal, mechanically wise. But you saw tonight, I was chasing the curveball.”
Weaver got off to a rocky start. Andrus’ one-out shot to left in the first inning was his first homer in 83 games. Los Angeles evened it later in the first when Trout singled, advanced on Albert Pujols‘ single and scored on Kendrick’s double.
The Angels went ahead in the fourth when Pujols doubled and scored on Kendrick’s groundout. Aybar then cleared the bases with a double, ending his first three-game hitless skid in two months.
Pujols had three hits for the Angels, improving his average to .281 — his highest since April 19.
Trout is one game shy of the franchise record held by Jim Edmonds, who scored a run in 13 straight games in 1995. The 42-year-old former outfielder and Southern California native attended Friday’s game, chatting with players during batting practice while his son hung out with Pujols, Edmonds’ former teammate in St. Louis. … No AL rookie had scored a run in 12 straight games since Don Lenhardt, who shares the record with 13 straight, did it in 1950. … Angels OF Vernon Wells began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Salt Lake, going 1-for-3 with a double.
Weaver, Angels’ bats key L.A. win over Texas
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