Angels-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver is widely considered one of baseball's top pitchers and the Oakland Athletics are one of the majors' weakest-hitting teams.

Not surprisingly, Weaver has typically come out on top in these matchups.

Set to make his fourth start since his first career no-hitter, the Angels' ace looks for his seventh win in Wednesday's series finale with the Athletics.

Tuesday's game in Oakland could possibly have been a preview of what to expect in the finale, with Los Angeles starter C.J. Wilson and reliever Ernesto Frieri combining on a one-hitter in a 4-0 victory.

"We have a great pitching staff and they're going to keep us in the game most of the time,'' said Albert Pujols, who hit his fourth homer.

The Athletics' lone hit came off Cliff Pennington's bat in the fifth inning, as the team lost for the fifth time in eight games and was shut out for the seventh time - second-most in the majors. The A's (22-22), who are last in the AL in runs with 152, last in the majors in batting average at .213 and playing without starters Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Inge, could be in for another tough day against Weaver (6-1, 2.80 ERA).

Weaver has already shut down Oakland once this season, giving up five hits and a walk in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-0 victory on April 16, and is 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA in six starts against the A's since the start of last year. Unsurprisingly, several Oakland regulars have struggled mightily against the two-time All-Star, with Pennington batting .189 in 37 at-bats, Daric Barton hitting .171 in 35 and Coco Crisp batting .176 in 34.

In his last outing Friday in San Diego, Weaver allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings of a 7-2 win. The right-hander rebounded nicely from his previous outing, when he was tagged for eight runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 13-6 loss at Texas on May 13.

"It's easy to turn the page," he told the Angels' official website. "If you worry about it and think about it, you're going to get yourself into some trouble leading into that next start."

Excluding that dud against the high-powered Rangers, Weaver has a 0.96 ERA in his other four outings since April 27.

The Angels' offense started to show some signs of life Tuesday, as Pujols drove in two runs, while Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick both had RBI singles. Los Angeles (19-25) had plated five runs in losing its previous three games.

Pujols has three home runs in his last seven contests and seems more comfortable with his new team. The three-time NL MVP has 15 RBIs in the last 16 games after driving in just one run in his previous 18.

"It's coming in drips and drabs,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's not like he woke up and all of a sudden today he has it. He's been working toward this, it's a process. He's seeing the ball very well.''

Pujols will look to keep his steady turnaround going against Jarrod Parker (1-2, 3.90), who was knocked around for six runs, four hits and four walks in two-plus innings of an 8-6 loss to San Francisco on Friday. The rookie right-hander had a 2.10 ERA in his first four starts, yielding two runs or fewer in each.

"Obviously the results weren't what I wanted, so you just move on and forget about it," he told the Athletics' official website.

What to Read Next