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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Angels 4, A's 1: Three Up, Three Down

By Mark Saxon

OAKLAND -- Jered Weaver got stronger as the game went along to pick up his 17th win and the Angels continued to keep the heat on the Texas Rangers with a 4-1 win at Oakland Wednesday afternoon.

After Texas beat  the Cleveland Indians 9-1 Wednesday night, the Angels were still three games back with 13 left. They gained a game on the Boston Red Sox in the wild-card race, which they now trail by 4 1/2 games.

The Good:

Cruise control. Wednesday wasn't particularly comfortable for Weaver. He struck out only one batter and had messes to clean up in each of the first three innings. But once he survived all that early noise, he got into a good groove, cruising through seven innings and setting up the possibility that he can pitch Sunday in Baltimore on three days' rest. That way, he can give the Angels three more starts.

Rested, ready. Manager Mike Scioscia gave Mark Trumbo Tuesday's game off after he saw evidence Trumbo was grinding hard trying to snap out of a hitting funk. That worked out well when the Angels' Rookie of the Year candidate sent a two-run home run screaming over the left-field wall in the sixth inning and pounded a single off the right-field wall two innings later. Trumbo usually doesn't stay down long. He's four home runs shy of Tim Salmon's team rookie record, 31.

Veteran presence. Bobby Abreu's career appears to be in the decline phase, but you get the impression he could still have a key part to play in this race. Abreu had the biggest hit of this series, the RBI double that tied Wednesday's game in the sixth. Abreu was on base three times and scored two of the Angels' runs. It was an important day for Abreu with youngster Mike Trout in the midst of a slump.

The Bad:

Bottom half. This is fairly commonplace in baseball and something that has plagued the Angels all year. The bottom of their lineup tends to be where rallies go to do. The Nos. 6 through 9 hitters went 2-for-15, both singles.

Willingham able. The way Josh Willingham stands out in the A's lineup, you'd think Angels pitchers might have been a little more careful. Somehow, Willingham got pitches to hit and he hit them quite hard. He mashed his 25th and 26th home runs while going 6-for-10 with seven RBIs in this series. No other A's regular has hit more than 13 home runs.

Sun spots. Peter Bourjos is a brilliant young center fielder, but lately he has had trouble with balls in the sun. He lost Brandon Allen's ninth-inning pop-up for a sun-aided double three days after dropping a Mark Teixeira fly ball that accounted for the losing run. It might take Bourjos a while to figure out how to approach balls at various stadiums. Oakland can be one of the tougher sun fields.