Angels smack Rangers 11-3, stay in playoff chase

Associated Press Modified: September 19, 2012 at 1:31 am •  Published: September 19, 2012
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jered Weaver spent a long stretch of his 100th career victory in the batting cage and the tunnel below Angel Stadium, playing catch to keep his arm warm while the Los Angeles Angels batted around in an eight-run fourth inning.

Weaver didn't lose his rhythm, and the Angels kept flowing toward a playoff berth.

Weaver pitched seven innings of six-hit ball in his 18th win of the season, Chris Iannetta had a two-run single and scored on a wild pitch during that crazy rally, and the Angels moved up in the AL postseason race with an 11-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Weaver (18-4) gave up third-inning homers to Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler, but got a huge cushion from his teammates to ease into a tie with Tampa Bay's David Price for the AL lead in wins. The ace right-hander, who has spent his entire career in Anaheim, matched his single-season high for victories and became just the sixth pitcher to win 100 games with the club.

"It's an honor to do it all in an Angels uniform," said Weaver, a Los Angeles-area native. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Hopefully these fans see 200 more, but I don't know. We'll see what happens."

What's happening on the scoreboards is more interesting to Weaver and his teammates at the moment.

Erick Aybar had three hits and scored two runs for the Angels (81-67), who moved within 3½ games of wild card-leading Oakland with their 15th win in 20 games after the Athletics (84-63) lost at Detroit. Los Angeles also kept pressure on Baltimore, which sits in second place in the AL wild-card standings.

"We're at the point in the year when we just have to win," Iannetta said. "We need to find a way. Texas, Oakland, Baltimore, they're all in the drivers' seat, but we've been on a real good three-week stretch. We just have to keep working."

Los Angeles trimmed its deficit behind the AL West-leading Rangers (87-60) to 6½ games, but the Angels are much more focused on making a late wild-card push — and with a few more innings like the fourth, they might have an outside shot.

Los Angeles sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth while carving up three Texas pitchers, including starter Ryan Dempster, during its biggest rally in nearly two months.

"It felt like a rain delay out there," Weaver said. "But when runs are coming across the board, you can't complain too much."

With eight Angels scoring a run, they had no trouble producing offense in the absence of Albert Pujols, who missed the game to be with his wife and their newborn daughter. The Angels expect Pujols to be back in the lineup Wednesday.

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