Jered Weaver's success is no surprise to the Los Angeles Angels - or to anyone else, for that matter.
Few expected Jason Hammel's resurgence with the Baltimore Orioles.
Two of the AL's top pitchers square off when the sizzling Angels seek a 13th victory in 14 road games Wednesday night against the slumping Orioles.
Weaver (7-1, 2.40 ERA) is having another stellar season despite sitting out roughly three weeks with a lower back strain. The runner-up in last year's Cy Young Award voting picked up right where he left off upon his return from the disabled list, allowing two hits in six innings of a 6-0 win over San Francisco last Wednesday.
Weaver suffered the injury after throwing 12 pitches and allowing three unearned runs in the Angels' 9-8 win over the Yankees on May 28.
``You never know after taking that much time away," Weaver said following his latest outing. "I've never been on the DL in the middle of the season, so I worked very hard to get back - and the training staff and coaching staff worked well with me to get back out there. It was nice to be able to come out of that one in one piece.'
The right-hander, who tossed a no-hitter against Minnesota on May 2, pitched the first of his two complete games this season when he beat Baltimore 6-3 on April 21. He's 4-3 with a 3.42 ERA in seven career starts versus the Orioles, who will counter with their top pitcher.
Hammel (8-2, 2.61) has been a revelation since coming over from Colorado in the offseason. He lost a no-hit bid in the seventh inning on his way to a one-hitter that beat Atlanta 5-0 on June 16, then followed that performance by giving up an unearned run and five hits in eight innings of Friday's 2-1 win over Washington.
``His outings the last two times out, and really most of the year, have been fun to watch,' manager Buck Showalter said. ``When you have command of that many pitches in your repertoire ... you like your chances. He was outstanding.'
The right-hander, who never has finished with an ERA lower than 4.33, is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in one start and one relief appearance versus the Angels, though he hasn't faced them since 2008.
Los Angeles (41-33) has won 23 of its last 31 to help shake off an early season slump after beating Baltimore 7-3 on Tuesday. The Angels, who won two of three versus the Orioles from April 20-22 and seek a sweep of this two-game series, have outscored opponents 68-36 while winning 12 of 13 on the road.
Albert Pujols and Peter Bourjos each hit two-run homers, while Mark Trumbo and John Hester added solo shots Tuesday.
``This park has always been a park where the ball flies,' manager Mike Scioscia said. ``In this park you just have to put it in your mind there are going to be home runs.'
Baltimore (41-32), meanwhile, has dropped five of seven to fall four games back of the Yankees in the AL East. The Orioles have scored 13 runs in their last eight contests, going 2 for 41 with runners in scoring position during that stretch.
"We've left some guys on base, we had the opportunity to score more runs, and we didn't," said Adam Jones, hitting .179 over his last seven games. "But we had the opportunity. We have to bear down, get in scoring position and get that hit. It's not easy.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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