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OAK@LAA: Morales opens scoring with a three-run shot

ANAHEIM -- Maybe pulling an all-nighter was all the Angels needed to remedy their early-season struggles.

Not long after they arrived at their homes around 6 a.m. PT because of a red-eye flight from New York, the Angels used 6 2/3 shutout innings from ace Jered Weaver and Kendrys Morales' first home run of the season to cruise past Oakland, 6-0, on Monday night.

For Morales, it was his first home run since a walk-off grand slam in May 2010. Of course, that home run proved to be one of the lowest points of Morales' career. He broke his left ankle jumping into the ensuing celebration at home plate and wouldn't return until 22 months and two surgeries later.

"We were happy he got around the bases in one piece," manager Mike Scioscia said of Morales' three-run home run, which gave the Angels an early lead that the A's never really threatened. "It's been a long time."

When Morales returned to the lineup on Opening Day, he fell into a bit of a slump, but with Monday night's three-hit performance, it looks like he might be breaking out of that.

Morales hit the ball hard in all four of his at-bats. In the third he was thrown out at second trying to stretch a lined single into a double. He had an extra-base hit robbed at the wall in the fifth, and he notched his fourth RBI of both the game and season with a double in the eighth.

"I've felt pretty good," said Morales, speaking through an interpreter as he downplayed the significance of his home run and said he wasn't thinking about 2010 as he rounded the bases. "I have been having good swings, but I haven't been able to hit them over the fence."

The home run gave Weaver, who was the only Angel operating on a normal sleep schedule because he flew home before Sunday night's game, more than enough support.

"Three runs at the beginning of the game was awesome," Weaver said. "That put me a little bit at ease. I was able to fill up the zone there a little bit."

"That one was the big one that really hurt," A's starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

It was a milestone night for Weaver as he became just the eighth Angels pitcher in history to record 1,000 strikeouts when he set down Josh Reddick in the sixth. With the scoreboard flashing "1000," 27,338 fans at Angel Stadium gave Weaver a standing ovation.

"I've gotten them all in an Angels uniform, so that's pretty cool," Weaver said. "But I think more importantly, six sets of brothers have done it, so I think that's a little bit more interesting than getting a thousand."

Weaver was alluding to his brother, Jeff, who recorded 1,214 strikeouts in his 11-year career.

The solid outing on Monday for Weaver comes after a shaky one last week in Minnesota, where he picked up a no-decision while allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings.

Weaver was dominant early -- especially with his slider, retiring the first 11 batters he faced. He tired a bit, allowing runners to reach scoring position in his last four innings, but the A's never scored and mustered just five singles and a walk against him.

"He makes it very easy," catcher Chris Iannetta said of working with Weaver. "To have the command of four pitches like he does, at that point it's just pick your poison really."

Scioscia went to his bullpen in the top of the seventh inning with two men on and two outs, a move Weaver said was warranted because he was wearing down a bit after throwing 105 pitches. Righty reliever Kevin Jepsen then retired Eric Sogard on a ground ball to second -- the last time Oakland would send the tying run to the plate.

The bullpen pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings, including a scoreless eighth from lefty Scott Downs, making his first appearance since twisting his ankle last Thursday.

Third baseman Maicer Izturis made a also made a pair of dazzling plays at third base, one a barehand pickup on a slow roller and one a diving backhanded stop, to help preserve the shutout.

Slumping right fielder Torii Hunter added two hits, both sharply hit balls to the opposite field, and Albert Pujols scored twice and had two hits as well.

Given that all three aspects of the game seemed to come together for the Angels, Scioscia noted that manner in which the Angels won was just as important as getting the win itself.

"The way we won was important too," he said. "We really pitched well, although we got a little sloppy in the ninth. We made some plays on the defensive side. I thought we controlled the tempo and controlled the counts."

As for the early-morning arrival, Scioscia doesn't want any of his players up until dawn again any time soon.

"Usually it hits you the second day," Scioscia said after the game. "Our guys need to get in bed."

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