Although Jered Weaver is pitching with a fraction of his early-career velocity, the veteran right-hander still gets victories with craft and guile.
And he never lost his curious mastery over the Chicago White Sox.
Albert Pujols hit a pair of two-run homers, Weaver pitched seven strong innings and the Los Angeles Angels completed an emphatic three-game sweep of the White Sox with an 8-1 victory Sunday.
After their worst first half since 1992, the injury-plagued Halos (40-52) returned from the All-Star break by outscoring Chicago 16-1. Los Angeles also escaped sole possession of last place in the AL West, pulling even with Oakland.
"Our motto is just to go out there and have some fun," Weaver said. "Obviously we're not in the position we'd like to be, but that's not going to deter from going out there and competing. A sweep against a team like this is a step in the right direction."
During the Angels' first series sweep since mid-May, Hector Santiago, Matt Shoemaker and Weaver (8-7) became the first consecutive Los Angeles starters to go seven innings since July 2015.
With his fastball showing a bit more speed than usual after 10 days off, Weaver beat the White Sox for the eighth time in his last eight starts against them since 2011, giving up just six hits.
"I'm still trying to get stronger, but my body is feeling a lot better," Weaver said. "It's not fun going out there and having to trick people and throw pitches that you wouldn't necessarily (want to) throw in certain counts. To have a little more of a fastball and being able to locate it keeps guys off your secondary pitches a little bit more."
Pujols connected in the first and fourth innings of his 53rd multi-homer game. He has 577 career homers as he pursues Mark McGwire (583) for 10th place on baseball's career list.
"Obviously we didn't have a great first half, but that's the way you want to start the second half," Pujols said.
Five Angels drove in a run while lighting up Jacob Turner (0-1) over the first five innings. He yielded seven hits and eight runs in his debut for the White Sox, who have lost four straight.
Chicago never threatened to do much against Weaver, who repeatedly tricked overeager hitters into harmless popups.
"You sit there and you marvel at the fact that it's not going very hard," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Speed isn't anything to alarm you about, but he almost throws it under that, anything that's a comfortable hitting speed. He takes a little off. Big curveball. Nothing seems to be in the middle of the plate."
Omar Narvaez got his first big-league hit in his first at-bat, and he scored Chicago's first run since July 9 on Adam Eaton's double moments later in the third inning. The run ended a 34-inning scoreless streak for the White Sox, who have lost six of eight.
"We need to score runs," Ventura said. "Scoring one in a series is not going to do it for us."
GOT HIS NUMBER
Pujols improved to 4 for 4 with three homers and six RBIs in his career against Turner, who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2014. He got promoted from Triple-A Charlotte for a spot start because Ventura decided to give an extra day of rest to All-Star Game starter Chris Sale.
Pujols opened the scoring with a 431-foot homer, his first since July 2. His second homer drove in Mike Trout, who snapped his longest hitless streak of the season (0 for 10) with a double off the wall moments earlier.
Along with Narvaez, White Sox right-hander Carson Fulmer also made his big-league debut, tossing two innings of one-hit relief. The 22-year-old Fulmer, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, was called up from Double-A Birmingham before the series. "It was impressive," Ventura said.
White Sox: 3B Matt Davidson (broken foot) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Turner on the roster.
Angels: Geovany Soto was scratched before the game with discomfort in his left knee.
White Sox: Sale (14-3, 3.38 ERA) goes after his sixth victory in seven starts when Chicago begins a three-game series in Seattle.
Angels: Nick Tropeano (3-2, 3.12 ERA) will make his third start since returning to the rotation in early July when Los Angeles hosts Texas.