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Angels increase AL West lead over Rangers

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- John Lackey deserved a break after four
straight well-pitched starts without a decision. He got one,
courtesy of a costly error by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Los Angeles Angels' right-hander matched zeros with
counterpart Jeff Weaver over the first four innings before Lackey's
teammates capitalized on a botched popup to score two unearned
runs. The rest was easy, as the AL West leaders began the latest
installment of the Freeway Series with a 7-0 victory on Friday
night.

"I was more concerned about handling my own business, trying to
put up zeros and giving us a chance to score first," Lackey said
of the matchup with Weaver. "We have plenty of good hitters, so I
knew we were going to be OK."

Lackey (6-2) combined with two relievers on a five-hitter,
helping send the Dodgers to their ninth loss in 11 games. This was
the third straight series in which they were shut out in the
opener.

"The starting pitchers are going out there and just
concentrating on what they're capable of doing, and that's getting
deep in the game and keeping us in the game. That's all we can
do," Weaver (6-7) said.

Dallas McPherson hit a three-run homer, Garret Anderson had a
solo shot and Adam Kennedy drove in two runs, helping increase the
Angels' division lead to a season-best 5½ games over the Texas
Rangers -- whom they had just swept in three games.

Lackey allowed three hits in seven innings, striking out nine
and walking one while winning his third straight decision over a
span of eight starts. He is 6-0 with a 1.19 ERA when pitching
against NL teams at home -- including Game 7 of the 2002 World
Series, when he beat San Francisco 4-1.

"The way John pitched in 2002 is certainly something everyone
saw as his potential," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "And
when you piggyback this season with the way he pitched the second
half of last year, you have to be excited (about) where his career
is going.

"John's got a tremendous competitive streak in him. He's still
young (26), he's got a lot of experience and he's using that to
become more consistent. I think the expectations I think were off
the charts coming off of the 2002 World Series. I mean, how many
rookies win Game 7 of a World Series?"

Weaver gave up four runs -- two earned -- and five hits in seven
innings. The right-hander retired his first 14 batters before
McPherson reached on a two-out error by shortstop Cesar Izturis in
the fifth, leading to the two unearned runs that broke a scoreless
tie.

"It was a tough break for us," Weaver said. "The game's
deadlocked, and the way we were playing, it was a matter of
grinding out a way to push one more run across than the other team.
And then when little things like that come up, it's a bigger hole
for us to overcome and puts added pressure on the offense."

Third baseman Antonio Perez, playing at Angel Stadium for the
first time, lost McPherson's popup in the twilight and the ball
popped out of Izturis' glove, allowing McPherson to get all the way
to second base.

Jeff DaVanon followed with an RBI single just beyond the reach
of second baseman Jeff Kent. DaVanon stole second, Orlando Cabrera
walked and Kennedy followed with an RBI single that extended his
hitting streak to 12 games, matching his career best.

"There's a lot of things you can't control in this game, but
running balls out and playing the game hard is one thing you can
control," McPherson said. "Luckily that ball fell and I was able
to be on second base, and then DaVanon came up with a huge hit. You
have to take advantage of miscues like that."

Anderson made it 3-0 in the sixth with his eighth homer, a
two-out drive to center field. He needs three more RBI to become
the first player in Angels history to drive in 1,000 runs. Kennedy
drove in the Angels' fourth run with a bloop double to center in
the seventh, and is 10-for-22 lifetime against Weaver.

McPherson drove in the final three runs, hitting his seventh
homer on the first pitch from Franquelis Osoria with two outs in
the eighth.

Game notes
Dodgers closer Eric Gagne underwent a season-ending
operation on his right elbow -- but did not need a reprise of the
Tommy John surgery he underwent in 1997 while he was in the minors.
He will need only six months of rehab instead of the 12 to 14
months that was anticipated. ... Hee-Seop Choi has one hit and one
RBI in his last 27 at-bats after hitting seven homers in his
previous 13 at-bats. ... Darin Erstad was 0-for-3 and is 2-for-25
lifetime against Weaver. ... Dodgers OF J.D. Drew missed his third
straight game because of a piece of loose cartilage and a bone
bruise in his left knee, the result of a headfirst slide. He
doesn't expect he will need to go on the DL. ... The Angels hold a
26-22 edge in the regular-season Freeway Series, which began with
interleague play in 1997.