Pujols hits 3-run homer, Angels beat Cubs 8-4
MESA, Ariz. (AP) Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer and Jered Weaver struck out eight as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4 Thursday.
Cubs left-hander Travis Wood homered off Weaver leading off the fifth as a pinch hitter. Wood hit three homers last season. He pitched Wednesday.
Weaver gave up four runs - three earned - and six hits in 5 1-3 innings.
''Everything is coming along nice,'' Weaver said. ''Location is good. Off-speed stuff is good when I need it. I'm happy with where I'm at.''
Mike Olt hit a two-run homer and a triple for the Cubs.
Cubs rookie slugger Kris Bryant, who has nine homers this spring, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. But he excelled in his first game in the outfield. Bryant, who mostly plays third base, started a double play by catching a line drive then throwing out a runner at second who was trying to steal third.
Pujols had 2 hits with four RBIs. Johnny Giovetella went 3 for 4.
''Johnny did a lot of good things out there,'' manager Mike Scioscia said of the second baseman.
''He's getting a chance, and especially on the defensive end, he's feeling more confident. He's doing a nice job.''
LESTER ON TRACK
Jon Lester threw 54 pitches in a minor league game Thursday, with manager Joe Maddon judging that Lester appears on track to start opening night on April 5 vs. St. Louis.
''I thought he looked really comfortable,'' Maddon said of Lester, who had gone through a dead-arm period and missed a scheduled start. ''I know his arm feels great. That's what I was worried about.''
Lester likely will throw 75 to 80 pitches in his final Cactus League start, which should enable him to throw about 95 to 100 pitches in the opener, Maddon said.
KNOW THE CACTUS LEAGUE
The normally talkative Maddon had little to say about his conversation with Edwin Jackson, who missed his scheduled start Tuesday because he was late. He ended up pitching at Oakland in the second inning and got rocked.
Jackson drove to the Athletics' old spring training home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, about five miles to the west of the Cubs' camp, instead of to the A's' new home at Mesa's Hohokam Park, about three miles to the east.
''Normally when I talk to someone in private I keep it that way,'' Maddon said.
Asked if he's going to direct Jackson to take the team bus in the future, the manager replied, ''I'm not a knee-jerk guy. I want to believe that's a one-time event.''
CUBS REDUCE ROSTER
Albert Almora, a top Cubs outfield prospect, has been sent to minor league camp as the Cubs reduced their spring roster from 52 to 40 players Thursday. Nine others were assigned to minor league camp: right-handed pitchers Daniel Bard, Anthony Carter, Jorge De Leon and Gonzalez Germen; left-handed pitcher Francisley Bueno; infielder Chris Valaika; outfielders Mike Baxter and Adron Chambers; and catcher Kyle Schwarber.
Also, right-handed pitcher Blake Parker and left-handed pitcher Joseph Ortiz have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.
On of Almora, Maddon said: ''I was impressed. I see him as a fine major league baseball player.''
Angels: Weaver did not walk a batter.
''It's always nice to not walk guys. ... It's something I've always taken a lot of pride in,'' Weaver said.
Cubs: In four innings, Eric Jokisch allowed four runs and six hits while striking out one.
Angels: Kole Calhoun, hit by a pitch in the first inning, left the game with a right triceps contusion. ''It stiffened up a little bit,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We took him out on a precautionary basis. Hopefully it's something where he can bounce back and play (Friday), but we'll see.'' ... David Freese, who has a hyperextended elbow, will take a couple of days off.
Cubs: Chris Denorfia, who injured a hamstring running to first base, may not be ready to go by opening night, Maddon said. ''There's no sense in rushing'' the healing process.''
Angels: C.J. Wilson is set to take the mound Friday at home vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Cubs: Jason Hammel is set to start Friday at home vs. the White Sox.