ARLINGTON (AP) – Matt Harrison had another solid start for the Texas Rangers. Except he was going against Jered Weaver.
The Rangers lost their third consecutive series after a 4-1 loss Wednesday to the division rival Los Angeles Angels, dropping out of first place in the AL West.
Weaver’s complete-game six-hitter made him the first five-game winner in the majors.
“He’s always tough. He’s obviously off to a great start this year,” Michael Young said. “Every time you face him, it’s going to be a grind, it’s going to be a battle. … He was on top of his game tonight.”
It was the fifth career complete game for Weaver (5-0), who struck out eight with no walks to lower his ERA to 1.23 this season. The right-hander threw 80 of his 119 pitches for strikes.
Harrison (3-1) struck out five while allowing three runs and four hits in his 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander, who left with the Rangers down 3-1, had allowed only one earned run in each of his first three starts while pitching at least seven innings each time.
“I know it’s going to be a close game, I know I have to bring my pitches,” Harrison said about matching up against Weaver. “I made those couple of mistakes, but I pitched well and have got to keep going. … Tip my hat, he pitched a great game.”
With the victory, Los Angeles took over sole possession of first place in the AL West. The Angels and Rangers had been tied atop the division after splitting the first two games of the series.
Except for when the Angels (12-6) won their opener a day before the rest of the AL West teams had played this season, Texas had been the division leader since last June 8. The Rangers (11-7) last year won their first division title since 1999 after the Angels had won five of the previous six.
“We’re playing good baseball. Other teams are playing good baseball too,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We’re only in April. … No time to panic, we’ll be fine. We lost two out of three to Anaheim. It’s April.”
The defending American League champion Rangers have lost six of eight, dropping series against Detroit, the New York Yankees and the Angels.
Howie Kendrick and Vernon Wells homered for the Angels, who have won 11 of their last 14 games.
Jeff Mathis drove in a run on a suicide squeeze bunt and also scored.
Weaver, who had already set a major league record for the earliest calendar date to get his fourth victory, became the first pitcher since Dave Stewart for Oakland in 1990 to win five times in his team’s first 18 games.
Kendrick led off the fourth with his sixth homer, matching Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees for the AL lead.
Peter Bourjos had a one-out triple in the fifth and scored on the suicide squeeze by Mathis, the Angels’ catcher who is a career .199 hitter. Mathis was credited with his second sacrifice of the game but reached when Harrison charged off the mound and kicked the ball for an error.
The Angels then had the bases loaded after Maicer Izturis and Kendrick drew consecutive two-out walks before struggling Torii Hunter struck out.
Elvis Andrus had a single in the sixth and scored on Young’s bloop double to right. That extended Young’s hitting streak to 11 games and cut the deficit in half.
But Mathis had a double in the seventh and scored on a single by Izturis that made it 3-1 and chased Harrison.
Bourjos, the speedy center fielder, robbed David Murphy of a home run in the bottom of the seventh. Bourjos leaped at the warning track and caught the ball with his glove extended above the eight-foot wall.
“That was awesome,” Weaver said. “It gave me a lot of motivation. It was unbelievable.”
Mike Napoli, who spent his first five major league seasons with the Angels before going to Texas last winter, then hit a double into the right-center gap beyond the reach of Bourjos. But Weaver struck out Mitch Moreland to end the inning.
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