Arlington, TX – Jered Weaver spun seven strong innings on Friday, becoming the AL's first 20-game winner and keeping the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the thick of the playoff race with a 7-4 victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
Weaver (20-4) scattered five hits and walked two while striking out five to earn the victory in the opener of this three-game set. The right-hander is the seventh Angel to win 20 games and the first since 2005 Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon.
"It's a great accomplishment," Weaver said of his career-high 20th win. "I didn't think that I'd ever do it. I have to thank my teammates for getting me to where I'm at. It's a great personal accomplishment but I'm all for winning a World Series before any of that stuff."
Mark Trumbo registered three hits and three RBI, while Mike Trout added a solo homer for the Halos, who have won six of seven and sit two games back of Oakland for the final wild card spot after the A's downed Seattle on Friday.
Ryan Dempster (7-3) was pegged with the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out seven over 5 2/3 frames.
Adrian Beltre clubbed a two-run home run and Nelson Cruz smacked a solo homer for Texas, which has lost three of four and missed out on a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a victory.
"We're not taking anything for granted," outfielder David Murphy said. "We're going to come out playing hard, keep fighting and keep racking up wins."
The Angels jumped on top early, as Trout launched the sixth pitch of the game over the wall in straightaway center field to give the Halos a 1-0 edge.
The visitors doubled their advantage with one out in the third when Chris Iannetta jumped on a first-pitch fastball and lifted it over the high wall in left field for a 2-0 lead.
LA tacked on a two-out run in the fourth after Erick Aybar reached on a fielder's choice and scored when Trumbo scorched a double to center field.
Josh Hamilton ripped a leadoff double into the right-field corner to start the bottom half and Beltre followed with a single. Hamilton moved to third on the play, but Beltre was thrown out trying to stretch his base hit into a double. Cruz's sacrifice fly then plated Hamilton to bring Texas within 3-1.
The Halos got the run back in the sixth as Howie Kendrick worked a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Trumbo's two-out double into center field.
The Angels added to their lead in the seventh when Torii Hunter worked a leadoff walk, moved to second on a groundout and then scored on Kendrys Morales' double into the right-field corner.
Morales came home two batters later when Kendrick scorched a single into center field to give the Angels a five-run advantage.
After Aybar beat out an infield single to put runners on the corners, Trumbo laced a single through the left side of the infield to score Kendrick.
Cruz led off the bottom half with a towering shot into the seats in left field to bring Texas within 7-2.
In the eighth, Ian Kinsler worked a leadoff walk, moved to second on a groundout and scored two batters later when Beltre ripped a two-run homer down the left-field line to make it a 7-4 game.
Ernesto Frieri fired a perfect ninth to secure his 22nd save of the season.
Trout's homer was his fifth leadoff home run of the season ... Weaver improved to 13-7 in 30 career starts against the Rangers ... In three starts against the Angels this season, Dempster has given up 17 runs and 22 hits over 13 2/3 innings.