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

The Angels, striving to gain ground in the American League playoff race, are planning to lean on ace Jered Weaver a lot down the stretch, starting with Sunday at Safeco Field.

In the series finale between the AL West teams, Weaver will have his work cut out for him as he faces Hisashi Iwakuma, one of the league's top starters in August.

The Angels will be going for a second road sweep at Seattle this season with those two right-handers battling on the mound Sunday. A check of the standings reveals that the Angels will have more riding on this one than the Mariners, and the Angels have made it clear they're going to ride their ace as much as possible as the season counts down.

Weaver is slated for seven more starts and only one outing with an extra day's rest among them.

"It's going to take more than Jered for us to reach our goal, so these guys all have to get us to a certain spot, and hopefully give us an opportunity to reach our goal," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "If we have to adjust one way or another, up or back, it'll change some things. But he's got the maximum amount of starts he really could get, and he lines up for the last day, which gives us a little flexibility."

Weaver is coming off a start against Boston in which he gave up five runs (four earned) in seven innings in what turned into a walk-off win for the Angels.

Iwakuma, meanwhile, had an outing at Minnesota in which he allowed only one hit in six innings, although he did allow a run on four walks and a hit batter.

"Iwakuma did it the hard way. He was erratic and didn't play up the same command he normally does, but he didn't give into it," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.

Added Iwakuma: "I was really struggling to get the first hitter, so I tried to fight it by myself. I tried hard to not let them get any runs and come back."

For the month of August, Iwakuma went 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA, by any measure the best month of the Japanese rookie's season. On Aug. 11, Iwakuma allowed three runs on six hits to take the victory over the Angels in a 7-4 Seattle win.

Angels: Focus on the job at hand
Veteran Torii Hunter has played in enough stretch runs to know that it's no time to look past today's game.

So even if the Angels are playing the last-place Mariners this weekend, there's no anticipating upcoming series against the A's, the Tigers and the A's again.

"That's one thing we're not doing," Hunter said. "We're not looking forward. We're looking at it one game at a time and that's what we've been telling ourselves -- this is one game at a time, one at-bat at a time, and focus on the task at hand. That's 100 percent of what we're trying to do."

Mariners: Gutierrez back in form
Franklin Gutierrez has played well since he returned from the disabled list following a concussion, batting .333 (6-for-18) in five games, including an RBI double Saturday.

He's also played solid defense in center field.

"Just a different team with him in the lineup," Wedge said. "I think he has a calming presence about him, whether it be hitting at the top of our order, or of course in center field or just being active and in the clubhouse around the guys with his experience level."

Worth noting
• The Angels maintain an 8-4 lead in the season series heading into Sunday's matchup. The two teams finish up their work against each other with six of the last nine games of the season -- Sept. 25-27 in Anaheim and a season-ending Oct. 1-3 series in Seattle.

• Following Sunday's finale, the Angels head to Oakland to face their AL West nemesis thus far this season, meeting the A's for three games starting with a Labor Day afternoon game. The Mariners, meanwhile, host the Red Sox for three games, also starting with a day game on Monday. Comments