Weaver will try to become the AL's first 20-game winner Friday night when these division rivals open a series in Arlington.
With a four-game series split versus second-place Oakland, the Rangers (92-64) lowered their magic number to clinch the West to three and lead the Athletics by four games with six left. These teams close the regular season in Oakland starting Monday, but Texas would obviously prefer to have its postseason spot locked up before heading to the Bay Area.
"We just want to close it out and give ourselves a chance in the playoffs," said Ian Kinsler , whose major league-high seventh leadoff homer sparked a five-run first inning in Thursday's 9-7 victory.
Texas opens its final home series with a fifth matchup against Weaver (19-4, 2.74 ERA) in 2012. The Rangers knocked the right-hander around for eight runs and 10 hits in a 13-6 home win May 13, but Weaver has won the last three, most recently an 11-3 victory Sept. 18 when he went seven strong innings to post his 100th career victory.
The three-time All-Star will try to win his fourth consecutive start overall after throwing 6 1-3 innings of one-run ball in Sunday's 4-1 victory over Chicago.
Weaver set a career high in wins with that effort and now has a chance to become the club's first 20-game winner since Bartolo Colon went 21-8 in 2005."To get one more than last year is great, and now I've got a couple more starts to try and get 20," Weaver said. "... Any win right now is important, personal accolades aside. That's what we've got to do - win ballgames, no matter what it takes."
The Angels (86-70) have won 24 of 34 to make a strong push for their first postseason berth since 2009, but they missed a great opportunity to inch within one game of the A's for the second wild-card spot with Thursday's 9-4 loss to Seattle.
Los Angeles had won five straight."We had a chance to gain a game, but instead we're still the same," said Torii Hunter , a soon-to-be free agent who could have played his final home game with the Angels. "We have no idea if we're going to play another home game here, but we're not going to give up, ever."
The Angels will try to win for the 12th time in 16 road games as they get a third look at Ryan Dempster (7-2, 4.48) this season. Los Angeles gave the former Chicago Cub a rude welcome to the AL by scoring eight times off him in a 15-9 loss in Arlington on Aug. 2. Dempster was then denied a career-best sixth straight winning start as he gave up five runs in 3 1-3 innings while losing to Weaver on Sept. 18.
Angels slugger Albert Pujols , a .351 hitter (20 for 57) with seven homers off Dempster, will try to extend his team-best hitting streak to 10.
Pujols and Hunter went a combined 17 for 37 with four homers - all by Pujols - and 17 RBIs as the Angels split a four-game series in their last visit to Arlington from July 30-Aug. 2.
These clubs have split 16 games in 2012, with Texas winning four of the last five.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|August 30, 2012||Howie Kendrick||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right knee|
|August 22, 2012||Albert Pujols||Day-to-Day||Left game - right calf tightness|
|August 19, 2012||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|August 19, 2012||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Sore right wrist|
|August 13, 2012||C.J. Wilson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left hand|
|July 30, 2012||Mark Trumbo||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|September 25, 2012||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Neck stiffness|
|September 23, 2012||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Sinus problems|
|September 18, 2012||Tanner Scheppers||Day-to-Day||Left game - Bruised right knee|
|September 13, 2012||Mike Olt||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, right foot|
|September 13, 2012||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Sore left knee|
|September 12, 2012||Adrian Beltre||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left shoulder|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- With the Los Angeles Angels needing every win they can get to stay in the playoff hunt, their ace pitcher came up with another clutch start.
Jered Weaver became the American League's first 20-game winner, Mike Trout hit a leadoff homer and the Angels beat Texas 7-4 Friday night to prevent the Rangers from clinching a playoff berth.
Los Angeles remained two games behind Oakland for the last wild-card spot. The Athletics beat Seattle 8-2 to pull to three games behind the Rangers in the AL West.
The Angels are a league-best 25-10 since Aug. 21 to keep their postseason hopes alive, and Weaver has been a big part of that run.
Weaver (20-4) has won his last four starts overall with a 1.98 ERA in 27 1-3 innings since Sept. 13.
The lanky right-hander allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings to beat Texas for the fourth straight time this season. He is the Angels' first 20-game winner since Bartolo Colon had 21 in 2005.
"We're not in a pennant race without him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You look at just what he's done virtually every start. I don't think there's a more consistent pitcher in our league."
Texas' magic number remains at three to clinch its third straight division crown. The Rangers need one more victory to lock up a postseason spot.
The Rangers close out the season with three on the road against Oakland, but Texas would obviously prefer to have its postseason spot locked up before heading to the Bay Area.
"If you win games, everything will take care of itself," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Trout homered on the sixth pitch of the game out to the grassy area beyond the wall in center, his fifth starting off a game since Aug. 18.
The dynamic rookie also set a club record by scoring his 125th run this season on that blast. It breaks the mark of 124 runs scored by Vladimir Guerrero in 2004.
Trout said he's not fazed being a part of the postseason chase for the first time.
"You've got to be relaxed," Trout said. "There's always going to be pressure when you play."
Dempster (12-8) dropped to 7-3 since he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 31. Two of those losses have come this month to the Angels, who have won six of seven overall.
Chris Iannetta hit a solo shot in the third for Los Angeles, and slumping outfielder Mark Trumbo had three RBIs and saved at least one run with a nice catch in left.
Nelson Cruz hit a solo shot in the seventh and Adrian Beltre added a two-run homer in the eighth that brought the Rangers within 7-4.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, right fielder Torii Hunter played Cruz's drive off the wall and threw him out at second trying to stretch it to a double.
Ernesto Frieri pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his 22nd save in 25 chances.
Weaver had struggled on the road against the Rangers in his career. He came into the game with a 3-7 record and a 5.05 ERA lifetime in Arlington, including a loss where he gave up eight runs on May 13.
Weaver, who struck out five and walked two, was pretty much in control from the start Friday. Weaver also got some help from two nice defensive plays.
With two men on base, Trumbo made a twisting catch on the warning track of Mike Napoli 's drive to end the second.
Third baseman Alberto Callaspo leaned onto a short wall and lunged into the stands to snag Ian Kinsler 's pop in the third.
"Never did I think I'd win 20 games in the big leagues," Weaver said. "So a lot of things have to go your way in a season to get to that milestone. Guys have picked me up and done great things."
Dempster yielded seven hits and four runs in 5 2-3 innings, his third start against the Angels this season. Trout and Iannetta's homers off Dempster gave the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Trumbo, who had been hitting .175 since Aug. 1 had an RBI double in the fourth and then added another run-scoring double with two outs in the sixth to make it 4-1.
"Solo home runs don't beat you," Dempster said. "It's the pitches you don't make with two outs."
Los Angeles extended its lead to 7-1 with three runs in the seventh, which was capped by Trumbo's RBI single.
NOTES: Texas RHP Mike Adams had an MRI and was diagnosed with a mild cervical strain. Adams, who has been battling soreness near his right shoulder, said he will be sidelined indefinitely. He allowed three home runs in the eighth inning of Texas' 9-7 victory over Oakland on Thursday. . Los Angeles DH Kendrys Morales left in the eighth with right rib soreness. Scioscia said he will be evaluated further on Saturday. . Trout also set the Angels rookie record for hits in a season with 173. Wally Joyner had the record with 172 hits in 1986. . Los Angeles righty Ervin Santana (9-12) will oppose Texas left-hander Derek Holland (11-6) on Saturday.