- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 11, 2009

ANAHEIM, CALIF. (AP) - Jered Weaver struck out eight in a strong season debut and the grief-stricken Los Angeles Angels, still mourning the shocking death of rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart, beat the Boston Red Sox 6-3 on Friday night.

It was the Angels’ ninth consecutive regular-season victory against the Red Sox, but the joy over this one was muted by prevailing sadness.

The 22-year-old Adenhart and two of his friends were killed when their car was broadsided early Thursday in a crash caused by a suspected drunk driver who was charged with three counts of murder Friday.

“Everyone has a heavy heart,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before the game. “We’ve really just started a process that we’re going to take a while to walk through.”

The Angels honored Adenhart, Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson with a moment of silence before the game as the team returned to baseball after postponing Thursday’s scheduled game against Oakland.

Weaver reached down with his finger and sketched Adenhart’s initials in the dirt on the mound, then allowed only an unearned run and walked two in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander tipped his cap as he left to a standing ovation after facing two batters in the seventh.

Nearing the dugout, he pointed his right index finger to the sky.

Adenhart’s presence was felt all around Angel Stadium. A growing collection of flowers, candles, Rally Monkeys, baseballs and handwritten messages were piled on the replica pitcher’s mound outside the gates.

The rookie’s No. 34 was painted in red on the back slope of the pitcher’s mound. A black-and-white photo of him in mid-toss was on the center-field wall next to his name and number in a black circle.

During the pregame tribute, Torii Hunter and John Lackey held Adenhart’s jersey on the mound with their heads bowed during silence. Lackey carried the jersey back to the dugout, where it was hung on the back wall next to the shelves of batting helmets.

The Angels wore No. 34 patches, which will remain on their home and road jerseys throughout the season.

“There’s no doubt about where our hearts lie right now, with the Adenhart family,” Scioscia said. “As tough as we feel as an organization, it pales in comparison to when you lose a son.”

For 2 1/2 hours, though, everything seemed routine again. Music blared and fans cheered the action on the field while scarfing down food and drinks.

“The easiest time for these guys is going to be between the lines when they’re playing the game,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think any of us slept last night. It was tough coming to the ballpark today.”

Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (0-1) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings, while walking five and striking out four.

Chone Figgins’s RBI single and a two-run single by Howie Kendrick gave the Angels a 3-0 lead in the second.

They extended the lead to 6-1 in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Hunter and Jeff Mathis’ two-run single.

The Red Sox scored their first run in the third on David Ortiz’s sacrifice fly.

They pulled to 6-3 in the eighth. Jacoby Ellsbury scored on Kevin Youkilis’ infield hit, and Dustin Pedroia also scored on the play when the throw from third baseman Figgins got past first baseman Kendry Morales for an error.

Scot Shields got four outs to earn his first save of the season.

Notes:@ Thursday night’s game against Oakland that was postponed hours after Adenhart’s death will likely be made up on Aug. 27 in Anaheim. … Angels LHP Joe Saunders will start Saturday’s game and RHP Dustin Moseley will start Sunday.

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