The Los Angeles Angels' playoff chances seem a lot brighter after the way Jered Weaver performed in his last outing.
The American League Cy Young candidate hopes to get his club a little closer in the wild-card race on Tuesday evening in the opener of a three-game series versus the AL West-leading Texas Rangers.
Some doubt hovered over the Angels when Weaver was forced to miss a start due to right biceps tendinitis, but he returned to the mound for the first time in 11 days on Thursday and was outstanding in a 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
The right-hander scattered two hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings, striking out nine to move to 17-4 with a 2.74 earned run average in 26 starts this season.
"I felt great," Weaver said. "I was able to throw the ball the way I wanted to. I tried to locate and I was able to throw strikes."
Weaver, 29, will face the Rangers for the fourth time this season, having gone 2-1 against them in the previous three starts. He did hold them to a pair of runs over 6 1/3 frames in a win at Texas on July 31 the last time he faced them.
The Angels will need Weaver in top form down the stretch as they trail the Baltimore Orioles by three games for the AL's second wild card. Los Angeles stayed in the hunt on Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Mark Trumbo hit a three-run homer and Torii Hunter added an RBI single for Los Angeles, which has won three of four since a three-game slide.
Dan Haren allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk over 5 2/3 innings to help the Halos bounce back after Kansas City rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to take Saturday's meeting.
"Last night was a tough page to turn, but our guys played well today," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, referring to Saturday night. "We got a lead and we held on."
Ryan Dempster was unable to do that when he faced the Angels back on Aug. 2 in his Rangers debut. However, the righty has been outstanding as of late and hopes to win a sixth start in a row this evening.
The 35-year-old righty has pitched to a 1.91 ERA over his winning streak, which he extended on Wednesday with a 5-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Dempster yielded two runs on seven hits and a walk in seven frames, fanning eight for a second start in a row.
Dempster has given up seven earned runs over 33 innings of his unbeaten streak, striking out 36 and improving his record to 6-1 with a 4.11 ERA in eight starts since getting traded to the Rangers from the Chicago Cubs before the non-waiver deadline.
The veteran faced the Angels in his first start following the deal and was drilled for eight runs on nine hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings of a no- decision, failing to hold a 6-2 lead.
It was the first time that Dempster was facing the Angels in his career.
Texas enters play with a three-game lead over the Oakland Athletics for first place in the division. It prevailed for the fourth time in six games on Sunday with a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Matt Harrison tossed 8 2/3 innings to pick up his 17th victory, giving up six hits. One was a homer to Justin Smoak in the eighth.
"He was outstanding," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Harrison. "Everything we needed out of him today he gave to us."
Adrian Beltre broke a scoreless game with his 33rd home run of the season in the fourth, and Mitch Moreland drove in the eventual game-winning run in the fifth.
The Angels have taken seven of 13 versus the Rangers this season, going 4-2 at home.