Jered Weaver gave the Angels seven brilliant shutout innings, and run-scoring doubles by Howard Kendrick and Mike Napoli were enough to support a 2-1 decision over the Rangers on Thursday night in front of 41,162 at Angel Stadium.
The victory gave the Angels the series and shaved Texas' American League West lead to 3 1/2 games.
Unimpressed, however, was C.J. Wilson, the southpaw who was tagged with the loss, falling to 6-4, after surrendering a pair of runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"We're a better team -- 100 percent," Wilson said. "When we play up to our capabilities, it might not be that close.
"We have a better balance to our team. They have good pitching, but their offense is like, I don't know. We have more wins. It's pretty simple. I'd rather take our offense. I'd rather take our defense. I'd much rather have our bullpen."
The Angels' bullpen got it done, but it was a harrowing eighth inning.
Fernando Rodney yielded one run before leaving the bases loaded, and Brian Fuentes closed the show with his 15th save and ninth in a row. Fuentes has retired all 10 Rangers he has faced this season.
Weaver, enhancing his case for what would be his first All-Star Game berth, held the Rangers to two hits and two walks across seven innings, striking out six to raise his AL lead in that category to 124. He moved to 8-3 on the year.
"My curveball was good, and my changeup came around later," Weaver said. "I was able to control all my pitches and get in on the big hitters. I've got to give it up to [catcher] Jeff [Mathis] for throwing up the fingers. I don't think I shook him off one time."
Weaver held the Rangers to two hits and two walks, raising his AL lead in strikeouts to 124 with six.
"That's what you want from your lead dog -- to win these games and move forward," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Weav has shown he's comfortable with that. That's a terrific effort. You saw different swings from them that illustrate he was hitting his spots."
Josh Hamilton's 23-game hitting streak ended, and Weaver cooled off a scalding Vladimir Guerrero, who launched three homers in the first two games of the series.
"He's always tough," Michael Young said. "He located all of his pitches really well. He got ahead in the count. Changed speeds. Typical Weav. He battled."
Weaver's dominance has peaked over his last three starts, surrendering a total of nine hits and two earned runs in 21 innings, while striking out 28 hitters and walking three.
"They did what they had to do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We had some chances, but Weaver really shut our bats down.
"They have a pretty good team. We have a pretty good team. It's going to come down to pitching and defense and that's what it came down to tonight -- pitching."
Weaver was cooling down when the Rangers heated up in the eighth.
Ian Kinsler's bloop single to left scored Elvis Andrus, and Rodney walked Hamilton intentionally to load the bases after Guerrero bounced into a strange out, 5-4-3 on your scorecard.
It was handled by Brandon Wood at third, but not ruled a double play. Umpire Bruce Dreckman maintained that Kendrick was not in touch with the bag at second before throwing to first.
Scioscia disputed the ruling -- to no avail, of course -- before Nelson Cruz popped up on a full count to strand the runners.
The Angels had the lead against Wilson two batters into the game. Erick Aybar beat out an infield hit and raced around to score when Kendrick slammed a double to left for his 50th RBI of the season.
Weaver had yielded a two-out double to Kinsler in the first inning but retired Guerrero on a popup.
Weaver's first serious challenge came in the fourth when he walked Kinsler on 10 pitches and then Guerrero on seven. Hamilton rolled out, the runners advancing, but they stayed right there when Weaver struck out Cruz and retired David Murphy.
"It's a 1-0 game at the time," Scioscia said, "and they've got guys coming up who can drive the ball out of the park. Weav was trying to make pitches and couldn't put Kinsler and Vlad away. Those were two good at-bats. But Weav got out of the inning. He was behind Cruz, 3-0, and got him out on a 3-2 changeup. That's big."
Torii Hunter's walk and a double to the left-center gap by Napoli made it 2-0 in the sixth.
Napoli was out at third on a squeeze attempt that didn't work with Mathis batting, and Darren O'Day retired Wood to end the inning.
O'Day, fellow former Angel Darren Oliver and Alexi Ogando silenced the Angels after Wilson departed.
"It got a little hairy in the eighth," Scioscia said. "But a lot of good things were happening on the field for our guys and from Jered Weaver."
And the oft-maligned -- and booed -- closer closed, yet again.
"Brian's stuff looks like it's picked up," Scioscia said. "Command is a big issue; he's all about command. He made some great pitches to the middle of the lineup [saving the first game of the series] and finished it off tonight."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less