Weaver spins gem as Angels top Indians

Weaver spins gem as Angels top Indians

Weaver spins gem as Angels top Indians
CLEVELAND -- Through six innings at Progressive Field on Monday night, Jered Weaver coasted. Then the Indians loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the seventh, making the Angels' two-run lead seem more vulnerable than ever.

Then Weaver took it to another level.

The Angels' ace worked out of that jam the way only an ace can, giving up no runs to maintain the Angels' slim margin and provide yet another gem -- one that set the tone in an eventual 3-0 victory.

"Jered, I've played with him for a long time now, and I've seen him work out of jams before," second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "What he did tonight was awesome. To be able to go out there, bases loaded, none out, and be able to work through that, keep his cool, execute -- that's what you look for in your ace guy. That's why he's our ace."

The victory put the Angels at 5-2 on their current road trip, moved them to a Major League-best 39-21 mark since April 28 -- the day Mike Trout was called up after a game in Cleveland -- and put them five games back of the idle Rangers in the American League West.

The shutout gave the Angels (45-35) 11 on the year, which leads the Majors and matches their total from last season.

The seven-plus scoreless innings allowed Weaver to outduel an effective Ubaldo Jimenez and moved him to 9-1 with an AL-leading 2.13 ERA. In 19 2/3 innings since coming back from the disabled list with a lower back strain, Weaver has given up one earned run.

"Pretty good," Weaver said after moving to 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in eight career starts in Cleveland. "That's the job of the pitchers -- to throw up some zeros and keep your team in ballgames. I've been able to do that, and it's nice to be able to get extended. No 80-pitch count anymore. It was nice to get back out there with a full pitch count."

Weaver threw 107 on Monday, none more difficult than the 13 he used to get out of that bases-loaded jam in the seventh.

Weaver, selected to his third straight All-Star Game on Sunday, gave up two hits and a walk and didn't put a single runner in scoring position through the first six innings, despite facing an Indians starting lineup that had eight batters hitting from the left side against him.

He began the seventh by walking Jason Kipnis, giving up a single to Michael Brantley and walking Carlos Santana. Then, he got Johnny Damon to ground into a forceout at home -- thanks to a slick play by third baseman Alberto Callaspo -- induced a foul popup by former Angel Casey Kotchman, and struck out Shelley Duncan swinging on a 1-2 slider.

"Once the heat got on," catcher Bobby Wilson said, "he really locked it in."

"He used all his pitches," manager Mike Scioscia added. "He spotted his fastball well there, used some offspeed pitches, and the last breaking ball he threw to Duncan was one of the best pitches he made all night."

Weaver started the game by establishing the fastball inside, which allowed him to throw the soft stuff away -- which ultimately played a big part in him getting him out of that seventh-inning jam.

"He's a pitcher," Damon said. "He knows what to do. He knows when to flip that slow curveball in there, he knows when to throw his changeup, he has control over every pitch. Even though he brushed back a few of our players today, he knew exactly what he was doing. Brush them back, go soft away."

With Trout scratched due to a jammed right pinkie, the Angels did little offensively against Jimenez, piecing together runs on a sacrifice fly by Erick Aybar in the fifth, a solo homer by Kendrick in the seventh -- his first since May 2 -- and a bases-loaded walk by Callaspo in the eighth.

Weaver went back out for the bottom half of that inning with 98 pitches because he felt good, and because Scioscia was hoping to avoid using Ernesto Frieri, who exerted 22 pitches the day before.

The end result was what Scioscia was looking for. The journey wasn't what he expected.

Weaver put the first two batters on with back-to-back singles, but lefty Scott Downs -- an All-Star Game snub, in the eyes of many -- kept the Indians (40-39) scoreless with a seven-pitch inning, then recorded a clean ninth to record his seventh save of the season and move his ERA to 0.32.

Weaver's 2.13 mark is now the lowest in the AL, topping the White Sox's Chris Sale (2.27) and making him a good candidate to start the All-Star Game for the second straight year.

"He competes," Wilson said. "He goes after it and he's not scared of anybody."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read 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.