04/28/08 12:34 AM ET
Weaver helps Halos take out Tigers
Righty tosses 6 1/3 frames; Hunter, Aybar drive in three apiece
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
The Angels' excellent adventure from Beantown through Motown ended in high style on Sunday night at Comerica Park.
Behind the resilient right arm of Jered Weaver and the productive bats of Torii Hunter and Erick Aybar, the Angels subdued the Tigers and Justin Verlander, 6-2, claiming two of three from the American League Central Division bombers with their star-studded lineup.
The trip had begun with wins in two of three outings against the reigning World Series champion Red Sox. At 10-5, the Angels have more road wins than any club in the Majors.
"Going in, we knew it was going to be a tough road trip," said Scot Shields, who finished the job with two scoreless innings against the Tigers. "We played good ball. We got some timely hits, and the pitchers were able to hold onto leads."
Returning to Anaheim for a seven-game homestand, the Angels will get their first look of the season at the A's on Monday night. The rivals share the American League West lead with 16-10 records.
The Angels averaged 5.8 runs on the trip with an offense that delivered top to bottom.
In the finale, Hunter, who doubled and tripled, and Aybar, with two singles and a sacrifice fly, each drove in three runs while Weaver was muffling a feared Detroit offense.
"That was Weav at his best, with everything -- slider, fastball, fastball command, changeup," said catcher Mike Napoli. "They're tough -- up and down that lineup. They stress you out."
Featuring an array of weapons, the Tigers had been averaging 10.5 runs coming into the series while assembling a four-game winning streak.
The Angels held them to 11 runs in three games.
"I pitched in more than I usually do," said Weaver, who carried into the game a 14.14 ERA in two previous career outings against the Tigers. "It's something I wanted to concentrate on.
"They were getting too comfortable with the outside pitch. That was part of the game plan, and obviously it helps having Napoli throwing down the right numbers.
"Boston and Detroit, those are two of the best in the AL. To be able to keep their runs down to a minimum is good for us from a pitching standpoint, that's for sure."
Weaver had a 5-1 lead at Fenway Park before the Red Sox rallied to bag their only win in the series.
"The offense was key in all four wins -- even in the one that got away from me in Boston," Weaver said. "It's nice to be able to go out there with the guys hitting the way they are. It's a lot less pressure on the starters."
Weaver (2-3) lasted 6 1/3 innings, yielding two runs on four hits. Shields was dominant in the eighth and ninth, catching both Gary Sheffield and Miguel Cabrera looking at third strikes, after Justin Speier had gotten two outs in the seventh.
"A sidearm slider," Shields said of the pitch that ended Sheffield's frustrating (0-for-11) series. "I had it from years past, but lost touch with it. Years ago, that was one of my biggest weapons. I'm glad I've got confidence again to throw it."
Shields praised Weaver for not getting frustrated early and keeping his poise against a loaded lineup.
Weaver's athleticism and a strong throw by Napoli helped the 6-foot-7 right-hander get through some early difficulties.
Walks to Magglio Ordonez and Cabrera to start the second had him in a jam, but Weaver struck out Carlos Guillen and got a double-play grounder from Edgar Renteria.
In the third, Napoli threw out Jacque Jones trying to steal after a walk, and Weaver nailed Curtis Granderson with a pickoff at first to end the inning. He got through the first three innings facing only 10 batters despite giving up four walks.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was impressed with the way Weaver "used both sides of the plate, changed speeds, threw strikes. He got strike one on just about everybody."
Ivan Rodriguez liked the way Weaver connected with Napoli.
"He had good location with the catcher, and that was the game," the Tigers' great catcher said.
The Angels took the lead against Verlander in the fourth on Casey Kotchman's two-out single and Hunter's triple to right.
They manufactured a run in the fifth on Maicer Izturis' single, a balk by Verlander, Napoli's fly ball and Aybar's sacrifice fly. Izturis would leave after the sixth inning with back spasms.
In the four-run sixth, Hunter doubled past third base, scoring Gary Matthews Jr., who'd walked, and Vladimir Guerrero, who'd singled.
With two outs and the bases loaded after a pair of walks, Aybar showed his maturity as a hitter when he stayed back and slapped a two-strike single to left for two more runs.
That was the end of Verlander's night, his record falling to 1-4.
After Speier replaced Weaver, Renteria's sacrifice fly and Rodriguez's RBI double delivered inherited runners.
Picking up the final six outs, Shields saved a little wear on Francisco Rodriguez, who will be fresh for the A's after saving three games in four days on a highly productive road trip.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.