Weaver Gives a Little Bo Peek

Times Staff Writer

If this was goodbye, then it's probably only for a little while.

On the same day the Angels announced that Bartolo Colon would rejoin their starting rotation sometime this weekend, Jered Weaver offered more compelling evidence that he's ready for a permanent spot as a major league starter.

The 23-year-old right-hander pitched seven strong innings during the Angels' 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, joining Bo Belinsky as the only players in club history to win their first four major league starts.

Weaver gave up five hits and an unearned run, striking out five and walking one as the Angels won their eighth consecutive game against the wretched Royals dating to last season.

Even though he lowered his earned-run average to 1.37 -- less than half that of any other Angels starter -- Weaver could find himself as the odd man out if the team decides to stick with the erratic but improving Jeff Weaver and demote his younger brother to triple-A Salt Lake.

"I haven't heard one word," Jered Weaver said. "Whatever happens, happens. It's not my decision."

The impending move will be necessary to make room for Colon, the 2005 Cy Young Award winner who has not pitched for the Angels since April 15 because of inflammation in his right shoulder.

"It's a tough decision, sure," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's a lot of things to consider. I wouldn't call it a dilemma, because I think any team would love to be in our position -- five guys throwing well with the Cy Young Award winner coming back."

Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez each pitched a perfect inning of relief for the Angels, who remained in last place in the American League West but trail first-place Texas by only 4 1/2 games, their smallest deficit since May 27.

Kendry Morales scored the go-ahead run for the Angels in the fourth inning when he singled up the middle, went to third on Mike Napoli's double down the left-field line and came home on Darin Erstad's groundout.

Chone Figgins played a part in both insurance runs in the seventh when he hit a run-scoring single up the middle and then stole second and third before scoring on Orlando Cabrera's groundout.

Cabrera had extended his club-record streak of reaching base safely to 43 games in the first when he singled to left field off Royals starter Brandon Duckworth (0-1). Cabrera scored on Vladimir Guerrero's double to left to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.

The Royals tied the score at 1-1 in the fourth thanks to some sloppy Angels defense. Doug Mientkiewicz flared a leadoff single to center and stole second with two out before Mark Teahen hit a grounder to the right side of the mound that nicked off Weaver's glove.

First baseman Morales picked up the ball and tried to flip it to Weaver covering the bag, but Weaver, with his back to the play, didn't see the ball as it sailed past him for an error that allowed Mientkiewicz to score.

"I make that play nine times out of 10," Weaver said. "I kind of took my eye off the ball and bobbled it. Not only did I make myself look bad, I made Kendry look bad."

Asked before the game whether he felt the Angels needed to acquire a hitter to get back into the division race, General Manager Bill Stoneman said his team simply needed to play better.

"If we can maintain the consistency that looks like it's coming around, we should be fine with what we've got," Stoneman said.

"Would we like to get an impact bat? You bet. But impact players just aren't readily available."

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