ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez are developing a compelling and competitive rivalry in the AL West. Up to now, the Los Angeles Angels have had the upper hand over the Seattle Mariners in that regard.
Weaver outpitched Hernandez for the third time this season in a matchup of the AL's strikeout leaders, and the Angels came out on top again 3-2 on Friday night.
"It seems like every time I face the Mariners, it's me and Felix going at it," Weaver said. "I saw him out there in the outfield before the game and I said: 'Here we go again.' He's one of the best pitchers in the league, and we've had some good battles. He's electric and it's fun to watch him pitch. I just wish I could do it without having to face him."
Weaver and Hernandez last hooked up on May 29 at Angel Stadium, when Weaver held Seattle to three hits and an unearned run over seven innings and Hernandez took a five-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the eighth before giving up Bobby Abreu's tying home run.
Neither got a decision that day as the Angels won 5-1 on a walk-off home run in the 10th inning by Kendry Morales, who broke a bone above his left ankle jumping on home plate in the ensuing celebration with his teammates and was lost for the rest of the season.
The other time the Angels faced Hernandez this year, he lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his shortest outing of the season and gave up three home runs in an 8-0 loss to Weaver on May 7 at Seattle.
"Early on, you get hyped-up facing No. 1 guys," Weaver said. "The guy's got great stuff and great makeup. But it's not like I have to pitch against Felix. I'm pitching against their lineup. So I take the same approach no matter who I'm facing. I trust my game and I trust what I'm throwing up there. But obviously, you know it's going to be a close game."
Weaver (9-5) allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings and had five strikeouts, increasing his major league-leading total to 142. The right-hander is trying to become the first Angels pitcher to lead the majors in strikeouts since 1977, when all-time strikeout king Nolan Ryan had 341.
"There's no way to tell exactly what type of pitcher a guy's going to be when he comes up, or what kind of statistic is going to jump out at you," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "The one thing we knew was that Jered was a strike-thrower. He's got a high strikeout total this year, but he just tries to pitch to contact in good zones. And when he does, he's at his best."
Weaver did not issue a walk against an offense that has scored fewer runs than any team in the majors except Pittsburgh. He has allowed only two earned runs against Seattle in 21 1/3 innings this season, and is 10-3 with a 4.12 ERA lifetime.
Hernandez (7-6) allowed 10 hits and no walks over eight innings while striking out only three to raise his total to 134. The right-hander, who pitched in his first All-Star Game last year and finished second in last year's AL Cy Young voting behind Kansas City's Zack Greinke, went the distance for the fifth time in 2010 and fourth time in his last six starts.
"I felt good, but not as good as if we'd won," Hernandez said. "It was weird today. Warming up I had no sinker, no four-seam fastball, no curve. After the third inning, I threw a lot of sliders and changeups. My fastball wasn't good tonight, but my slider and change kept me in the game. I don't think if I give up three runs, we're going to lose. When we got to 3-2, I thought we were going to come back and win this game."
Neither Hernandez nor Weaver appeared in Tuesday's All-Star Game at Angel Stadium. AL manager Joe Girardi wanted to add Hernandez to his roster, but felt he would be a wasted pick because he threw 126 pitches last Saturday in a complete-game win over his Yankees. Weaver received his first All-Star invite because of an injury to Oakland's Trevor Cahill, but wasn't eligible to pitch because he started last Sunday -- something Girardi didn't realize until after he had committed to naming Weaver to the team.
The Mariners, who held a hitters-only meeting in the clubhouse before batting practice to discuss their situational approach, were shut out until the seventh. Franklin Gutierrez led off with a single and newly acquired Justin Smoak homered on a 1-2 pitch to cut the Angels' lead to 3-2.
It was Smoak's ninth home run this season, and the rookie's first RBIs since joining Seattle in a multiplayer trade that sent 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers on July 9. Smoak entered the game 0-for-23 lifetime against the Angels before singling his first time up.
The Mariners have lost 11 of their last 13 games following a 9-3 stretch and are a season-worst 17 games out of first place. Ichiro Suzuki did not get a ball out of the infield in four at-bats, ending his 14-game hitting streak.
The Angels made it 3-0 in the third inning. Erick Aybar scored on Abreu's single after getting hit by an 0-2 pitch to lead off the inning, and Howie Kendrick came home on a double-play grounder by Torii Hunter.
Hernandez is the first Mariner with more than four complete games since 1997, when Jeff Fassero had seven and Randy Johnson six. The last Seattle right-hander with more than four was Erik Hanson, who went the distance seven times in 1993. ... Weaver has an AL-best 1.54 home ERA in nine starts, compared to a 4.37 mark in 11 starts on the road. ... Mariners starters have gone at least eight innings a major league-best 22 times, including 10 complete games.
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