Weaver stymies Twins again, moves to 5-0

Weaver stymies Twins again, moves to 5-0

Weaver stymies Twins again, moves to 5-0
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jered Weaver wasn't going to no-hit the Twins again.

"They were ready," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter noted. "They had better swings today."

If Weaver was going to mow through their batting order once again, the Twins ensured, he was going to have to earn it. So, he did, muscling through six innings of one-run ball despite an escalating pitch count to lead the way in an 8-3 win that put his record at 5-0 and gave the Angels their sixth victory in the last eight games.

Just five nights ago, Weaver put his name in the record books against this same Twins team, throwing nine hitless innings and hardly allowing any hard-hit balls in notching the 10th no-no in Angels history.

This time, it was a lot more difficult -- even though he allowed just three hits in moving his ERA to 1.60 on the year. He needed 28 pitches to get through the third inning -- 10 alone in an Erik Komatsu at-bat that saw Weaver give up his first hit in a string of 39 batters -- and had exerted 79 by the time he finished the fifth.

"[Pitching coach Mike Butcher] came up to me after the fifth and was like, 'Hey, man, I'd like to see you get through one more,'" Weaver recalled. "I was like, 'Yeah, I'd like to see myself get through one more, too.' I just felt gassed."

Weaver did manage to get through one more, but nothing else. He had only 89 pitches under his belt once he got through the sixth, but it was a tough 89. Tough enough that manager Mike Scioscia felt more comfortable going with a bullpen that came in with the third-highest ERA in baseball and without the services of LaTroy Hawkins (broken right pinkie) and Scott Downs (bruised left knee).

"Even though his pitch count wasn't high, he just didn't seem like he was in sync for most of the night," said Scioscia, whose club has won four in a row against the Twins, including last week's three-game sweep. "I think that just shows what a terrific pitcher he is, that he can get through six innings with really not the stuff you would expect."

"He threw a lot of pitches against us last time to get the no-hitter, so he was leaving some more balls over the plate," Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll added. "He didn't have as much movement, but he was still effective enough. It shows you what type of pitcher he is."

Weaver's ERA is now just 0.98 through his last five starts, a span of 36 2/3 innings. The fifth-inning run he allowed -- on what should've been an inning-ending double play -- was his first since April 21, snapping a 21-inning scoreless streak.

Yeah, Weaver's good. Good enough to throw consecutive no-hitters, which Johnny Vander Meer did way back in 1938?

Not quite.

"To just get one is hard enough," said Weaver, the first pitcher since Derek Lowe in 2002 to face the same team he threw a no-hitter against in back-to-back starts. "To follow it up with one is pretty ridiculous, so I think that's going to stand for quite some time. I don't see anyone else going out there and doing that."

Weaver's outing laid the foundation, but an offense that may be turning the corner allowed the Angels to jump out to an early 4-0 lead and pull away with a three-run ninth -- thanks in large part to Komatsu dropping a two-out fly ball in left field to plate two runs.

Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo, the two versatile infielders who have had to fight for any playing time they get, combined to reach base six times at the top of the order. Albert Pujols, who snapped a single-season career-high homerless drought of 110 at-bats with his first home run Sunday, went 1-for-5 but drove in two to give him four RBIs in the last two games -- after driving in five through his first 27. And the Angels produced double-digit hits for the third straight game, marking only the second time they've had such a stretch this season.

"I think that we're coming together and playing some descent baseball right now," Weaver said.

"Six of eight is great," Hunter added. "You start living in the past, man, it catches up to you, and you get back into that funk. So let's worry about what we're doing now. We're playing good baseball right now."

Facing Francisco Liriano, who came in having given up nine earned runs in 10 1/3 innings against the Angels this year, the Angels got on the board on an RBI groundout by Pujols in the first, took a three-run lead on a two-run homer by Callaspo in the third (his first in 20 games), nursed a 4-0 advantage after Peter Bourjos drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth and went ahead, 5-1, on a Pujols RBI single in the seventh.

"Our situational hitting has picked up," Scioscia said, "and hopefully, some of these guys are going to start driving the ball."

The Twins (7-21) threatened in the eighth, with Joe Mauer ripping an RBI single off David Carpenter to make it a 5-2 game. But Jordan Walden, who had made just one appearance since being demoted from closer on April 26, got out of a first-and-third, one-out jam with just one of the inherited runners scoring.

Then the Angels (13-17) pulled away for good.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.