ANAHEIM — There was a sense of urgency in the Angels clubhouse Friday that didn't seem to exist in April, May, June and early July. Coming out of the All-Star break with an 11-game deficit and the division-leading Oakland Athletics in town for three games may have been just the jolt the club needed.
"It's the second half, every game is critical," said slugger Albert Pujols, normally among the most even-keeled of Angels. "It's not like there is tomorrow. Before you know it, it's September. We have to win as many games as we can."
They got a good start Friday night, pairing another superb Jered Weaver effort against the A's with solo home runs by Pujols, Erick Aybar and Mike Trout in a 4-1 victory that kicked off a stretch in which the Angels play 13 of 20 games after the break against Oakland and Texas.
Weaver gave up four hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking four, to extend his scoreless streak against Oakland to 24 2/3 innings and improve to 7-1 with a 0.84 earned-run average against the A's since 2011. He has given up only one earned run in his last 37 1/3 innings against Oakland.
The right-hander caught a break when A's slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who won Monday night's home run derby in New York, was a late scratch because of a sore left wrist, but considering how sharp Weaver's slider and changeup were, it might not have mattered. Of Weaver's season-high 118 pitches, 71 were strikes.