ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jered Weaver spent a long stretch of his 100th career victory in the batting cage and the tunnel below Angel Stadium, playing catch to keep his arm warm while the Los Angeles Angels batted around in an eight-run fourth inning.
Weaver didn't lose his rhythm, and the Angels kept flowing toward a playoff berth.
Weaver pitched seven innings of six-hit ball in his 18th win of the season, Chris Iannetta had a two-run single and scored on a wild pitch during that crazy rally, and the Angels moved up in the AL postseason race with an 11-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
Weaver (18-4) gave up third-inning homers to Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler, but got a huge cushion from his teammates to ease into a tie with Tampa Bay's David Price for the AL lead in wins. The ace right-hander, who has spent his entire career in Anaheim, matched his single-season high for victories and became just the sixth pitcher to win 100 games with the club.
"It's an honor to do it all in an Angels uniform," said Weaver, a Los Angeles-area native. "I wouldn't have it any other way. Hopefully these fans see 200 more, but I don't know. We'll see what happens."
What's happening on the scoreboards is more interesting to Weaver and his teammates at the moment.
Erick Aybar had three hits and scored two runs for the Angels (81-67), who moved within 3½ games of wild card-leading Oakland with their 15th win in 20 games after the Athletics (84-63) lost at Detroit. Los Angeles also kept pressure on Baltimore, which sits in second place in the AL wild-card standings.
"We're at the point in the year when we just have to win," Iannetta said. "We need to find a way. Texas, Oakland, Baltimore, they're all in the drivers' seat, but we've been on a real good three-week stretch. We just have to keep working."
Los Angeles trimmed its deficit behind the AL West-leading Rangers (87-60) to 6½ games, but the Angels are much more focused on making a late wild-card push — and with a few more innings like the fourth, they might have an outside shot.
Los Angeles sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth while carving up three Texas pitchers, including starter Ryan Dempster, during its biggest rally in nearly two months.
"It felt like a rain delay out there," Weaver said. "But when runs are coming across the board, you can't complain too much."
With eight Angels scoring a run, they had no trouble producing offense in the absence of Albert Pujols, who missed the game to be with his wife and their newborn daughter. The Angels expect Pujols to be back in the lineup Wednesday.
Dempster (6-2) was charged with five runs and six hits in 3 1-3 innings, ending his five-start winning streak with his second rough outing against the Angels. The veteran has yielded 13 earned runs to Los Angeles and just 15 to the rest of the AL during his nine starts for Texas.
"It got out of control," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We just couldn't get any outs. Dempster struggled from the beginning. It was a fight the whole time, and in that fourth inning, they just took the game away from us."
All-Star Josh Hamilton left in the fourth with sinus trouble that affected the slugger's vision, Washington said. Napoli had two hits in another big game against his former teammates, but Weaver and two relievers largely shut down the majors' most potent offense.
Kinsler ended an 0-for-11 skid with just his second homer in 17 games, but the Angels got rolling in the fourth. After Vernon Wells and Alberto Callaspo reached, Iannetta cracked a one-out single off the bottom of the right-field wall before Mike Trout walked to chase Dempster.
Tanner Scheppers then threw two pitches: He hit Aybar with the first to load the bases, and put the second into the backstop for a wild pitch. Iannetta made contact with Scheppers' leg on his slide, leaving Scheppers on the ground in agony while Napoli's throw hit home plate umpire Jim Wolf, allowing Trout to score on a throwing error.
Scheppers left with a bruised right knee, but the Angels didn't let up against Mark Lowe.
Aybar scored on Kendrys Morales' single, a tapper that traveled about 15 feet up the third-base line. Wells and Callaspo then drove in runs before Mark Trumbo made his second out of the inning.
"It was strange and bizarre," Michael Young said. "There were definitely strange things that happened that inning, but the bottom line was that they had some good at-bats and found a way to score. It doesn't matter how it happened. They scored eight."
NOTES: Hamilton was replaced by Leonys Martin on defense in the bottom of the fourth. The major league leader with 42 homers walked and grounded out in his two at-bats. ... Weaver has never lost a decision to Texas at Angel Stadium, going 9-0. ... RHP Wilmer Font made his major league debut for Texas in the sixth, pitching a scoreless inning.