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LAA@HOU: Williams shuts down Astros over seven frames

Another shot at his former team may be just what Joe Saunders needs to get back on track. The veteran left-hander has gone 1-2 with a 1.29 ERA in three career starts against the Angels, and he is 1-1 with a 0.60 ERA in two tries this year with the Mariners, including a 1-0 loss June 19 in Anaheim when the only run scored on a wild pitch.

The season's second half has not been good to Saunders, who has a 3-7 record and a 6.90 ERA since the All-Star break. Prior to the break he was 8-8 with a 4.24 ERA.

Conversely, Angels starter Jerome Williams is on a roll of late. Since Aug. 21 -- immediately following a nine-start stretch in which he went 0-6 with an 8.34 ERA -- Williams has seen the results of throwing more offspeed pitches to set up his dangerous sinker, posting a 3.74 ERA in six games (five starts) to lower his ERA to 4.65.

"I've been using a lot of my offspeed pitches," Williams said. "More than usual, to try and get hitters to stay off of the sinker. As a hitter, when they're facing me, they already know that I'm going to be throwing the sinker. So, they'll probably be geared up for that. And if I throw offspeed pitches early in the count, later in the count I can throw my sinker and get my ground ball."

Williams, arbitration-eligible for a third year, faces the possibility of being non-tendered in December.

"I'm not worried about that," Williams said. "I'm just going to try to do the things I need to do to be successful and just let everything play out. I just want to pitch to my best capabilities and let things fall out. I have no control over it; nobody does. At the end of the day, if I go out there and do my job, someone will see it, and hopefully something will happen."

Mariners: Ackley continues second-half climb
For Dustin Ackley, a season with a frustrating beginning has turned into a positive springboard going forward as the converted center fielder has been excelling both in the field and at the plate with increasing frequency down the stretch.

Ackley has hit .311 since the All-Star break, raising his season average from .205 to .251. And he made three excellent catches coming in on low line drives in center field in the last two games of the Detroit series, continuing his on-the-job training at that new defensive position.

He hit his fourth home run of the season, a three-run shot off Doug Fister, in Thursday's 5-4 loss, and he said he was regaining his confidence and ability to line the ball around the park.

Three of his four home runs and 12 of his 30 RBIs have come over the last 28 games.

"For sure, the last several weeks it's felt right when I'm up at the plate," Ackley said. "I think that gives me great confidence going into next year, just knowing what I'm capable of doing. I'm not just some singles hitter or a guy trying to just hit balls on the ground. I'm capable of doing a lot more than that, and I think I've shown that a little this year and hopefully next year I'll do that more consistently."

As for playing the outfield, along with the occasional stint back at second base when needed?

"Every day it feels like it's getting better and better, and I'm feeling more and more comfortable," he said. "I'm not out there anxious or nervous anymore. I think it's good that I've gotten a lot of balls lately and gotten a lot of different reads. I think it's been good for me."

Angels: Weaver not worried about forearm tightness
Jered Weaver was scratched from Friday's start with lingering forearm tightness that he first felt after his Sept. 9 start against the Twins. Still, the 30-year-old righty said it was "nothing I'm worried about," and that he was confident he would be available to start against the A's on Wednesday.

Weaver will forego an MRI exam and plans to play catch Saturday.

Worth noting
• Kyle Seager came in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning Friday against the Angels after starting 106 straight games.

• The Mariners are 7-10 against the Angels this season with only two games remaining in the seasons series. Seattle hasn't won a season-series against Los Angeles since 2003.

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