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Angels Again Work Over Rangers

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Jered Weaver popped out of the dugout and ran quickly to the mound in the ninth inning. He wanted to finish what he started.

    Weaver became the major league's first five-game winner with eight strikeouts and no walks in a complete game, pitching the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

    "It takes a lot to go right to get off to a start like this. The team's playing well behind me and we're getting some runs," Weaver said. "Anytime you mix those two together, you'll be all right."

    Howie Kendrick and Vernon Wells homered for the Angels, who have won 11 of their last 14 games to take over first place in the AL West from the defending AL champion Rangers.

    Jeff Mathis drove in a run on a suicide squeeze bunt and also scored.

    "We're a lot way away from where we need to be for the long haul," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've been getting some wins because we've been pitching well."

    It was the fifth career complete game for Weaver (5-0), who limited Texas to one run on six hits to lower his ERA to 1.23 this season. The right-hander threw 80 of his 119 pitches for strikes.

    "It's early, but anytime you came come into this ballpark and manufacture some runs and keep the runs off the board and take two of three from a club like that in their park, it's a plus," Weaver said. "It feels good, but you need things to go your way. ... Hopefully we can keep it rolling."

    Except for when the Angels won their opener a day before the rest of the AL West teams had played this season, Texas had been the division leader since last June 8. The Rangers, who were tied with Los Angeles after splitting the first two games of this series, last year won their first division title since 1999 after the Angels had won five of the previous six.

    The defending American League champions have lost six of eight, including three consecutive series..

    "We're playing good baseball. Other teams are playing good baseball too," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We're only in April. ... No time to panic."

    Matt Harrison (3-1) struck out five while allowing three runs and four hits in his 6 2-3 innings, not good enough against Weaver. The right-hander had allowed only one earned run while pitching at least seven innings in each of his first three starts.

    "I know it's going to be a close game, I know have to bring my pitches," Harrison said. "I made those couple of mistakes, but I pitched well and have got to keep going. ... Tip my hat, he pitched a great game."

    Weaver, who had already set a major league record for the earliest calendar date to get his fourth victory, became the first pitcher since Dave Stewart for Oakland in 1990 to win five times in his team's first 18 games.

    All four of Weaver's previous complete games came during the 2009 season, when he won a career-high 16 games. He has a 69-39 career record in 149 career starts for the Angels since his major league debut in 2006.

    Kendrick led off the fourth with his sixth homer, matching Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees for the AL lead.

    Peter Bourjos had a one-out triple in the fifth and scored on the suicide squeeze by Mathis, the Angels' catcher who is a career .199 hitter. Mathis was credited with his second sacrifice of the game but reached when Harrison charged off the mound and kicked the ball for an error.

    Bourjos, the speedy center fielder, had a run-saving catch in the bottom of the seventh when he leaped at the warning track and caught David Murphy's flyball with his glove extended above the eight-foot wall.

    "It wasn't until I got close that I thought I could catch it. ... I just didn't know if I had room," Bourjos said. "As I jumped against the wall, it was like, `How did I get here?' It was pretty cool. "

    Weaver pumped his arm excitedly while watching the play.

    "That was awesome," Weaver said. "It gave me a lot of motivation. It was unbelievable."

    Mathis had a double in the seventh and scored on a single by Izturis that made it 3-1 and chased Harrison.

    Wells, the Arlington native, led off the eighth with his first homer of the season.

    Elvis Andrus had an infield single for Texas in the first, but got picked off by Weaver, who had already thrown over to first base five times to the ire of the crowd before getting the out the sixth time.

    Notes: Both teams had their designated hitters leading off. The last time that happened in a major league game was June 15, 2005, when Atlanta played at Texas. ... Angels SS Erick Aybar was 0 for 4 in his return from the disabled list. ... Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who hadn't pitched since Friday, walked three consecutive batters in the ninth but didn't give up a run. ... Angels RHP Joel Pineiro (right shoulder tightness) threw 45 pitches in three innings at extended spring training. Manager Mike Scioscia said Pinero's stuff "was terrific. He felt good." ... The Rangers have Thursday off, then play on 20 consecutive days. ... Wells had four homers in the first three games last season, while playing for Toronto at Texas.