Weaver to take on Red Sox in opener

Weaver to take on Red Sox in opener

As the American League's two best teams hook up in the first of three games at Angel Stadium, a pair of gifted right-handers -- the Angels' Jered Weaver and Boston's Curt Schilling -- hook up, both looking to recapture their top form.

It's the first time the division leaders have seen each other since April 13-16, when the Red Sox swept a three-game series, with a fourth scheduled contest rained out. It will be replayed in an Aug. 17 day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park.

The Red sox didn't just beat the Angels in those three games -- they beat them up, outscoring Mike Scioscia's troops by a combined 25-3 and putting Vladimir Guerrero out of action for two games with a hand injury, sustained when he was struck by a 96 mph fastball by Josh Beckett.

Neither Beckett nor Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch in this series, while Boston will avoid the Angels' twin aces, John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar.

Weaver is coming off a pair of subpar outings, having yielded a total of 23 hits in his past 11 1/3 innings. But before those efforts against Detroit and Seattle, Weaver had been on a strong run, yielding a total of only 10 earned runs in his previous seven starts.

Weaver fought his command in one of his roughest starts of the season in Seattle on Wednesday night, surrendering six earned runs on 12 hits and one walk in six innings. He struck out only one hitter, and his stuff was not as explosive as he needs it to be. It was the second straight time Weaver had yielded six earned runs, even though he managed to beat the Tigers giving up six runs because of an offensive outburst.

Curtis Montague Schilling, 40, dominated the Angels on April 14 at Fenway Park, shutting them out across eight innings while giving up four hits and one walk, striking out four.

His last start before going on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis was against Atlanta on June 18, when he yielded six earned runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innnings.

Schilling delcared himself ready to rejoin his Boston teammates after throwing seven innings of shutout baseball for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox on Tuesday. He said he had the arm strength to go longer if necessary.

In his third rehab appearance with the PawSox, Schilling scattered four hits, did not issue a walk and struck out four host Columbus Clippers in a 5-4 win.

Schilling's main concern was how his right shoulder has been holding up.

"I threw a lot of strikes, used different pitches, worked on my command and got some quick outs," Schilling said. "To get up and down seven times, warm up and feel strong is a good thing."

Schilling is 6-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 94 1/3 Major League innings this season, with 71 strikeouts and 19 walks.

In his previous two outings with the PawSox, the six-time All-Star had struck out a combined 14 batters while allowing just four hits over eight scoreless innings. With Tuesday's start, he put together a total of 15 scoreless innings.

"I'm healthy and I'm strong. That's all that counts," Schilling said. "These [scoreless] innings don't count toward trying to win a pennant."

They count now.

Outfielder J.D. Drew was back in the Boston starting lineup Saturday night in Seattle, his first start since July 28 in Tampa Bay. Drew missed the Baltimore series to be with his family following surgery on his 17-month-old son to repair a developmental displacement in his hips.

"The young guy's been a little tough on him, but we want to get him back in there," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "You always hope something positive comes out of not playing. Maybe the one good thing is his leg got a little breather."

Drew is batting .245 with six home runs and 40 RBIs in 92 games in his first season in Boston.

The series also will feature two of the leading candidates for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, with a third -- Matsuzaka -- idle for the series.

Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox second baseman, was leading all AL rookies through Saturday with a .319 average. Second is Angels outfielder Reggie Willits, who took Sunday off with a .302 average. Willits has a slight edge over Pedroia in on-base percentage, .398 to .394.

Pedroia is also doing it with the glove, having gone 35 straight contests without an error going into Sunday's game against Seattle. He also has just one error in his last 83 games.

The Angels are hoping to get versatile Erick Aybar back for the series. Aybar has been at Triple-A Salt Lake getting ready after undergoing right wrist surgery on July 5.

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Jered Weaver (7-5, 4.00)
Weaver is 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two career outings against the Red Sox.

BOS: RHP Curt Schilling (6-4, 4.20 ERA)
Schilling has made himself comfortable at Angel Stadium in five appearances, two as a starter. He's 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA with no walks and 18 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. For his career, Schilling is 5-1 in 10 appearances against the Angels with a 2.79 ERA, walking three and striking out 32 in 42 innings.

Player to watch
Guerrero has had a measure of success against Schilling, batting .263 with a .596 slugging mark in 57 career at-bats, with five homers and eight RBIs. He has drawn four walks and has struck out 10 times against Schilling.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• 710 ESPN, AM 830 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Angels (Joe Saunders, 5-0, 3.10) vs. Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 13-9, 4.55), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Angels (Dustin Moseley, 4-1, 4.43) vs. Red Sox (Jon Lester, 1-0, 5.09), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Thursday: Off-day

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.