SEATTLE -- Maybe it doesn't mean a whole lot now, with a postseason absence a foregone conclusion and pride the only thing at stake the rest of the way, but the Angels are finally seeing some positive signs from their most prevalent deficiency all year: starting pitching.
With a 7-1 victory in Sunday's series finale, the Angels took all three games over the weekend at Safeco Field, giving them their first sweep since June 28-30 in Houston. They put on a pitching clinic in the process, from Garrett Richards to Jason Vargas to Jered Weaver.
The Mariners totaled two runs in 27 innings. And for the first time since 1976, the Angels completed a road sweep while allowing one run or fewer in every game.
Better late than never, right?
"We pitched well in the Cleveland series and unfortunately didn't have much to show for it, but here we did a great job -- capped off by Weave this afternoon," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, his club riding a season-high-tying streak of five straight quality starts.
"That's the template. It feels good to finally get a game on our template and work it out."
The Angels (58-71) rocked right-hander Aaron Harang -- as they have pretty much all year -- by scoring four runs in the fourth and three runs in the sixth, all with nobody on and two outs. And Weaver took care of the rest, pitching eight innings of one-run ball to move to 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA in an injury-shortened season.
Richards (7 1/3 scoreless innings), Vargas (6 1/3 innings of one-run ball) and Weaver combined to post a 0.83 ERA in the three-game series, putting the Angels one game back of Seattle for third place in the American League West.
"Not a great re-entry for myself here," said Mariners skipper Eric Wedge, who returned Friday after suffering a stroke in late July. "If you look at the three guys, they're completely different. You've got to give them some credit, too, but our guys are better than what we've been seeing."
The Angels' starting pitching problems in 2013 -- they're 23rd in the Majors with a 4.41 ERA, even after a great series -- can be traced back to the prolonged loss of their ace.
It was Weaver's seven-week absence with a broken left elbow early in the season that sent an already thin rotation backpedaling. He finally returned just before the end of May, maintained an ERA over 4.00 through the month of June, reverted back to form with a sizzling July and posted a 6.31 ERA in his first four August starts.
He just wants to finish strong.
"Very much so," Weaver said after giving up three hits, walking none and striking out eight in a 102-pitch outing that saw him give up only a Dustin Ackley homer. "I missed a big portion of the season with a broken elbow and it was tough, and it was tough to get back into feeling strong again. I've had a couple rough ones the last couple starts and just wanted to go out there and fill up the zone and try to get some zeros. I was able to do that today."
Josh Hamilton had two hits, giving him three straight multihit games for the first time since August 2012 and putting his batting average at a season-high .235. Harang is 0-4 with a 10.40 ERA in four starts against the Angels this season.
In the fourth inning, Mark Trumbo hit an RBI double, Chris Nelson hit a two-run triple and Grant Green notched a run-scoring infield single. In the sixth, Peter Bourjos hit an RBI triple deep into the left-center field gap and Kole Calhoun followed with a two-run homer, essentially sealing the first three-game winning streak since the start of August.
The Angels, off Monday before starting a three-game series in Tampa Bay, are trying to find the positives wherever they can.
"The overall picture is not great, but this is a very good series for us," Trumbo said. "Sometimes, when other things aren't attainable, you start looking for other things that you can do. If we go on a nice little streak, that'd be awesome. Because there are some new faces, and if you can jell with the guys that you're currently playing with, you're that much better for it down the road."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.