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LAA@BOS: Weaver fans five to earn win No. 16

Before his team took on the A's on Wednesday night, Angels manager Mike Scioscia complimented his players for "digging themselves out of a tough hole early" this season and making a late push for a playoff spot.

"And we have to finish this off," Scioscia said. "So, all that frustration and everything that's gone on behind you, we'll look in retrospect to see how it ends. But right now, guys, I think by playing better, especially this last two- or three-week stretch, there's a lot of confidence in this group, and that's what we need moving forward."

The Angels have played better, winning six straight and 11 of 12 entering their current series. But their quest to finish off that run has hit a speed bump, with the A's capturing the first three of the four-game set, including Wednesday's 4-1 victory. Oakland now is the team with six straight wins, and 15 in an 18-game stretch.

The Angels' loss dropped them 3 1/2 games out of the second American League Wild Card spot and 5 1/2 behind the Wild Card-leading A's.

Now they will turn to Jered Weaver, who missed his last start with biceps tendinitis and hasn't pitched since Sept. 2. The injury has bothered Weaver (16-4, 2.86 ERA) since an Aug. 6 shutout of the A's, after which he has posted a 6.14 ERA over five starts.

"I just wasn't myself," Weaver said. "I couldn't get on pitches, certain pitches, when I wanted to. I couldn't throw my slider as hard as I wanted to. I couldn't bump up on fastballs as much as I wanted to. It was biting and felt tight in there, and just couldn't get it out of there. As much as I would like to go out there 80, 85 percent, I just couldn't do it anymore. I wanted to take a break and see if I would feel better, and the little break has definitely helped out."

Weaver said he "felt good" while throwing a bullpen session and hopes to "get back to 90, 95 percent," because no pitcher is at 100 at this point in the season. One factor that could be in his favor is the opponent, as Weaver has allowed one run on 12 hits in 23 2/3 innings against the A's this season.

Weaver's counterpart, A's lefty Brett Anderson, started the season on the disabled list while recovering from Tommy John surgery but has dominated in four starts since he was activated. Anderson (4-0, 0.69 ERA) has racked up a 19-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and limited opponents to a .425 OPS.

He called his outing on Saturday at Seattle his "most grinding" start so far, despite allowing only an unearned run in six innings.

"It's always fun and easy when it's going good, but it makes these starts sweeter when you have to pitch out of jams and battle your way through it," Anderson said.

A's: New position, fresh results for Pennington
• Cliff Pennington was hitting .197 on July 19, when he played his last game before going on the disabled list with an elbow injury.

Since returning on Aug. 8, his batting average sits at .277, including .405 in his past 11 games, with two home runs and two doubles. Pennington also switched from shortstop to second base in mid-August, which manager Bob Melvin described as a beneficial "change of scenery," but Pennington said was "just a coincidence."

"Right now, I'm seeing the ball good, feeling confident, and it's working," he said.

• The A's have won 12 consecutive road games, tying the longest streak in franchise history, which lasted from July 31-Aug. 15, 1971.

Angels: Izturis remains sidelined with rib injury
• An MRI that Maicer Izturis took on Tuesday revealed no structural damage in the infielder's strained left rib cage, which he hurt taking a swing on Saturday. That means the nine-year veteran could be ready to return over the weekend in Kansas City.

Izturis took ground balls hit directly at him during Wednesday's batting practice but didn't do any hitting. While he is out, Andrew Romine can take over the backup infield role.

• Two players who won't be spending any time on the bench are Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.

A calf injury is preventing Pujols from playing first base, but he has been in the lineup at designated hitter for 14 consecutive games. Trout has played every inning of the Angels' past 41 games.

Worth noting
• Anderson has a 3.63 ERA in six career starts against the Angels, including a 3.54 mark in three outings at Angel Stadium.

• The A's locked up the season series on Wednesday by taking a 10-8 lead going into Thursday's final meeting.

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