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Weaver strikes out 5, Angels top Italy 12-6

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March 6, 2013 08:38 PM EST | AP

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Jered Weaver got to enjoy a small piece of the World Baseball Classic atmosphere.

Weaver struck out five in three innings and top prospect Kaleb Cowart drove in three runs as the Los Angeles Angels beat Team Italy 12-6 in an exhibition Wednesday.

Weaver played for the United States in the Pan American Games in 2002 and said he had an interest in Team USA for the upcoming WBC.

"I would have liked to have been a part of it," he said. "I told them if I was healthier at the end of the year I would do it. You want to be there for your country but there are a few things to get ready for."

Weaver allowed one run in his second spring start and threw 52 pitches. The three-time All-Star went 20-5 last season and will start on opening day next month.

Weaver said he viewed the Italian squad like a major league club.

"I looked at it as any other team," he said. "They had some big league guys on that team and guys who could swing the bat."

Italy's team in the WBC was led by Seattle prospect Alex Liddi. He hit an RBI double off Weaver and later hit a two-run homer off Jerome Williams.

"He's one of the best in the game," Liddi said of Weaver. "It's good to get to face him."

The Italian lineup also included Nick Punto of the Dodgers, Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs and Drew Butera of the Twins.

In his previous start, Weaver gave up two hits and a run in two innings against the Dodgers.

"My command is getting there," Weaver said. "I'm still a little bit amped up. I mixed up more sliders and changeups and threw some good changeups."

Weaver said earlier this week that a new training program implemented by Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher has given him a bit more flexibility.

"I haven't had this much range of motion in my shoulder in a while," Weaver said. "It's nice to feel this good this early. I feel a lot more freer. I can go back to my normal arm slot."

Said Angels manager Mike Scioscia: "He got his pitch count where it needed to be. He had to face some big league hitters, so he had to make some pitches."

Scioscia, of Italian heritage, said he didn't feel any differently in beating Team Italy.

"They were trying to beat us," Scioscia said. "But we wish them luck."

Italian music played throughout the afternoon at Diablo Stadium. But when it came time for the Italian national anthem, it wasn't cued up in time.

With starters resting, Angels top prospect Kaleb Cowart took advantage of playing time and hit a three-run double in the first inning off Carlos Richitti, a member of the Italian Baseball League. Cowart had two hits.

NOTES: Scioscia said he would request that the designated hitter not be used in Thursday's game at San Diego so that his pitchers can hit. He added he would not spend much time on pitchers hitting this spring. ... Weaver had to duck away from a throw down to second base by catcher Hank Conger at the end of warmups before the second inning. "I didn't know if he was trying to throw me the ball or what," Weaver said. "I made sure in the third inning to get off the mound a little bit quicker."