Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jered Weaver clearly heard the whispers about his declining velocity and the criticism of his rising loss total during an ugly start to the Los Angeles Angels' season.
He figures a six-hit shutout against the AL West leaders ought to shut everybody up real quickly.
Weaver got his first win of the season, and Carlos Perez had an RBI single in the Angels' 2-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Weaver (1-4) didn't allow a runner to reach second base during an outstanding performance in the seventh start of his difficult season. He didn't walk a batter and retired 19 of his last 21, receiving a standing ovation after completing his first shutout since 2012.
"It was nice to get out there in the ninth," Weaver said. "Haven't had that in a while. (It's a) step in the right direction, and just keep working hard and try to prove a lot of people wrong."
Weaver pitched the first month of the season with an alarming lack of velocity to go with his winless record. The Angels' longtime ace was struggling to get his fastball into the mid-80s.
Everything changed on a chilly night at the Big A. Weaver's fastball hit 89 mph in the second inning, and he mixed in his usual sharp off-speed pitches to flummox the Astros after allowing five singles in the first three innings.
"I was happy to get people out," Weaver said. "I don't care about velocity."
Houston didn't get another hit until Jose Altuve's third single in the eighth, and that was it: Weaver finished in style, retiring the heart of Houston's order in the ninth.
"Everything was better with Weave," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's tough to go from where Weave was to a complete game, but he did it. ... You saw all the stuff today. You saw how crisp it was. He maintained it. I thought it was decidedly different today, the way he was throwing the ball."
C.J. Cron drove in a run during a two-run fifth inning for the Angels, who have won three of four. Mike Trout went 0 for 3 with a stolen base, and Albert Pujols extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning single.
Roberto Hernandez (1-3) yielded only six hits while pitching into the eighth inning for the Astros, who have lost four of five.
"(Weaver) was throwing a little harder, and he did a good job of keeping us off-balance," outfielder Colby Rasmus said. "The balls that we did hit didn't find no love. He had his lucky rabbit foot in his back pocket. Roberto gave us a good chance to win, but we weren't able to capitalize on it."
Hernandez only faced trouble in the fifth, when he yielded four singles and Cron's sacrifice fly. Perez delivered an RBI single against the Astros, who traded him to Los Angeles during the offseason in a deal for Hank Conger.
The second-place Angels have an opportunity in the four-game series to make up ground on the Astros, who streaked out to an outstanding April. Los Angeles had a two-run lead in the ninth inning of the series opener Thursday, but closer Huston Street gave up three runs and lost.
"Weaver did a good job of really never giving in and never throwing the same pitch at the same speed for nine innings," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We didn't really have a counterpunch for him."
Weaver was hit in the chest with a water bottle during his postgame television interview on the field, presumably by a teammate. The Angels have developed a team tradition of dumping ice buckets on each other during every postgame interview, but the bottle was a weird twist that didn't seem to please Weaver. "Baseball questions," he said curtly when asked about the bottle.
CAUGHT OUT TWICE
Altuve reached on a bunt single on Weaver's first pitch, but was thrown out by Perez attempting to steal second. He singled again in the third, but was picked off by Weaver.
Angels: Los Angeles recalled RHP Ryan Mattheus from Triple-A Salt Lake after top relievers Street and Joe Smith were made unavailable by pitching in each of the past three games.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (3-0, 0.80) looks to continue his spectacular season with his sixth consecutive decision victory.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (2-2, 5.40) got tagged with a loss Monday despite striking out 10 and pitching into the eighth inning.