Angels turn to Weaver in finale with Tigers

Jered Weaver has yet to pitch into the seventh inning at any point this season and his ineffectiveness is costing the LA Angels.

The Angels are 3-4 in Weaver's seven starts this season and hope their ace can turn the corner Thursday in the finale of a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Weaver is 0-3 with a 6.62 earned run average in his past three starts and lost to Pittsburgh his previous time out last Friday in a 5-2 decision. The right- hander allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings, struck out three and did not walk a batter. He is now 1-4 in seven starts with a 4.65 earned run average, one year after going 20-5 in 30 starts.

"It's in there," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think right now it's just command. His velocity isn't any different than it was last year. Once he starts commanding counts a little bit better and being able to really open up counts for his secondary pitches, he's going to be fine. Right now, he's just battling to get back in counts and missing up with his fastball. And his command of his fastball, when it's on, it's as good as there is."

The right-handed Weaver, who missed time this season with a broken left forearm, is 0-2 in three road starts and 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA in nine career starts against the Tigers.

Doug Fister will counter Weaver on the mound and hasn't pitched much better, going 1-4 with a 4.30 ERA in the last seven starts. The Tigers are 1-6 in that stretch and dropped a 10-6 decision his last time out on Friday versus Boston.

Fister was tagged for six runs and 11 hits in only 3 1/3 innings. It was the second time this season he has pitched 3 1/3 innings or less.

"Bottom line is I didn't do my job tonight," Fister said. "I didn't make the pitches, didn't execute. They came out, they're a good lineup, they put the ball in play, did what they needed to do, put up runs."

The right-hander is 6-5 with a 3.66 ERA in 15 starts and did not record a decision in a 4-3 loss at Anaheim back on April 21, when he gave up three unearned runs in seven innings. Fister is 2-3 with a 3.05 ERA in eight career starts against the Halos.

Anaheim put itself in position for a sweep of the Tigers with Wednesday's 7-4 win, one night after taking the opener, 14-8. The Angels grabbed a comfortable 7-3 lead with three runs in the seventh inning and got home runs from Mike Trout and Erick Aybar. Trout had three RBI and two runs scored.

What was even more impressive for the Angels was that their bullpen was called on immediately after starter Tommy Hanson was scratched with tightness in his forearm, leaving Billy Buckner responsible for starting duties. Buckner allowed three runs and seven hits, including two homers, in three innings.

"For Buckner to get down there and get loose in a hurry, and for our bullpen to support us the way they did is huge," Scioscia said.

Dane De La Rosa got the win with two scoreless innings. Ernesto Frieri worked around a hit in the ninth and struck out two for his 18th save, as the Angels improved to 5-0 against Detroit this season and have won eight overall in this series.

The Angels will visit Houston for three games this weekend.

Detroit will try to salvage this set and solve the Angels in the finale of its 10-game homestand (4-5).

Jose Alvarez made his third major league start for the Tigers on Wednesday and was dealt the loss for allowing four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. Drew Smyly came on in relief and quickly gave up three runs in 1 1/3 frames.

Former Angel Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera hit back-to-back homers in the first inning, but the Angels were able to continue their assault on the current AL Central leaders, who are now 2 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland.

"I don't know how to say it," Hunter said. "I've been around the game for a while and I've seen different teams manhandle one team, and they're manhandling us right now. They're throwing us around like rag dolls."

Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 11 games and is batting .465 with four homers, nine RBI and 20 hits in that stretch.

Following Thursday's series finale with Anaheim, the Tigers will take their show to the road for 11 games against Tampa Bay, Toronto and Cleveland.