Weaver takes lead in K's but Halos fall

Weaver takes lead in K's but Halos fall

ANAHEIM -- The reward for the Angels in a season like this is the glimpse ahead, the chance to see the future talent grow.

The risk is what happened Sunday, and shortstop Andrew Romine said he's already done some growing.

Romine, one of four rookies in the starting lineup for the second time in three days, made two errors and the lineup let a pitcher making just his second big league start off the hook in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox at Angel Stadium.

Chicago swept the three-game series and took seven of nine games in the season series after the Angels won the first two.

"I had a lot of young guys on that field," manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's going to be some growing pains, and I think we saw them this afternoon."

Pitching in 97-degree heat, Jered Weaver tired in the seventh when Chicago scored twice to take the lead. Omar Vizquel's single to center broke a 3-3 tie and knocked out Weaver, who threw 106 pitches. Juan Pierre's triple past left fielder Bobby Abreu, who was playing shallow and gambled by trying to cut off the ball off on the fly, tied the game one batter earlier.

Weaver, though, was still as sturdy as he has been at home all season. Sunday was his last start at Angel Stadium this season, and all 16 times here, he delivered a quality start. He allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, struck out nine to regain the Major League lead in strikeouts (229) from Seattle's Felix Hernandez, and for the sixth time this season, walked none.

"It's just more comfortable," Weaver said. "I've been pitching here for five seasons now. Any time you're on the road and in hotels, it's just a comfort feeling just to get back in your own bed."

The only truly scary inning for Weaver was the third, when he was nearly hit with a line drive. Coming out of his follow through, Weaver bent backwards on his knees toward third base and not only dodged the laser off the bat of Pierre but caught it.

Weaver, who said he never saw the ball, ended up on the ground with his hands behind his head, shaking off the stun. His first thought? "Thank you, Lord."

"That's probably the closest call I've had there," Weaver said. "It was nice I was able to get my ugly mug out of the way. ... You take a couple deep breaths and kind of realize what just happened."

Weaver was given a 3-0 lead in the first when the Halos jumped on Tony Pena. Rookie Peter Bourjos, atop the lineup for a third straight day, sparked the rally and went 2-for-4 for his sixth career multihit game. Rookie Hank Conger had a two-out RBI single after Bobby Abreu hit his 40th double earlier in the inning, giving Abreu a season of 40 doubles, 20 homers and 20 steals for the fifth time. No one else has done it more than three times.

The second inning brought a swing of emotions for Romine and Chicago's first run. He couldn't bring in a pop up down the left-field line in the top half, and the White Sox were on the board two batters later. The sun played a factor, although Romine wanted only to blame himself.

"You're like, 'This is what I've been practicing,'" said Romine, who spoke to Angels coaches in between innings. He had not played above Double-A before Friday. "You know right away, 'This is what I need to do next time when it comes up.'"

In the bottom of the second inning, Romine collected his first Major League hit on a grounder through the left side, a ball that he said is going to his dad.

The offense, though, never gained momentum like it had in the first, and Pena went six innings. Matt Thornton threw two hitless innings for his seventh save.

"We didn't execute well on the offensive side," Scioscia said. "Early in the game ,we did some nice things to get on the board, [but we] didn't get guys over when we had to. And obviously after the first inning with guys in scoring position, we couldn't get a hit."

Romine made a second error trying to complete the second leg of a double play in the fourth, airmailing a ball into the White Sox dugout as A.J. Pierzynski came in sliding late with his arms up. Chicago didn't score again, though, until it brought one home in the sixth.

"It's different, but this time of year when the playoff chances are done, it's fun to give those guys a chance," Weaver said. "I was one of those youngs guys at one time, and I was itching to get out there, too ... they got some pressure on 'em, too."

With one start, Weaver has two milestones in reach. He pushed ahead of Felix Hernandez for the Major League lead in strikeouts by two. Weaver's ERA climbed to 3.02, but he can still become the first Angels hurler to finish with a sub-3.00 mark since Jim Abbott in 1992.

Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.