ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver finally regained his form Friday night, twirling a shutout against the Astros to snap his six-start winless streak and lead the Angels to a 2-0 victory at Angel Stadium.
Weaver hit his spots, kept the Astros hitters off balance with a slow curveball and changeup and even dialed up his fastball on occasion, frequently throwing 86 and 87 mph to capture his first win and drop his ERA from 6.29 to 4.98. No Astros batter reached second base.
"It's nice to get a win and get the monkey off my back," Weaver said. "I'll keep working hard in between, try to maintain it and keep it rolling."
Astros right-hander Roberto Hernandez also pitched well, giving up just two runs on six hits to drop his ERA to 3.86. But his offense couldn't generate much and the first-place Astros (19-11) lost for the fourth time in five games. The Angels moved to 14-16.
"We definitely didn't put our heads down and kept pushing, and he was able to keep us off balance," Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus said. "Still, he pitched a good game and we weren't able to capitalize and make a run at the end."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Exclamation point: Weaver took the mound for the ninth inning with 106 pitches -- on a night when Joe Smith and Huston Street were unavailable -- and retired the middle of the Astros' lineup in order. The Angels' ace struck out Evan Gattis swinging, and got Colby Rasmus and Chris Carter to fly out, notching his first shutout since Aug. 6, 2012. More >
Asked if there was no question Weaver would take the ball for the ninth, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "Oh, there was a question. It's tough to go from where Weave was to a complete game, but he did it. He had been close to 100 pitches in previous starts. There's no doubt he was maintaining his stuff. … Those last couple pitches were really good, so that's a good sign."
In search of offense: The Astros, who averaged 7.6 runs per game during their 10-game winning streak, are suddenly struggling to score runs. They were held scoreless through eight innings for the second game in a row Friday, but unlike Thursday, they weren't able to rally in the ninth. They've scored eight runs in their past five games. More >
"Weaver did a good job of really never giving in and never throwing the same pitch the same speed for nine innings," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We didn't really have a counterpunch for him. Early, we singled him a little bit and then made a few outs on the bases, but he settled in and changed speeds and really picked at the corners and never threw the same pitch twice, it didn't seem like."
Started from the bottom: The Angels had been desperate for production from the bottom of their lineup all year, and they finally got some of it Friday. David Freese and Erick Aybar led off the fifth with back-to-back singles, and both eventually scored, on a sacrifice fly by No. 8 hitter C.J. Cron and a two-out RBI single by No. 9 hitter Carlos Perez.
Hernandez keeps Astros close: Hernandez held the Angels scoreless on one hit through the first four innings. He gave up two runs on four singles and a pair of sacrifices in the fifth, but was otherwise solid over 7 2/3 innings, but registered his third loss of the season.
"Roberto was good and made pitches and kept us in the game," Hinch said. "They created an inning on him when they got the leadoff batter on base, they hit and run, first and third, a sac fly.They scored in one of their few scoring opportunities.and got the lead, which is always nice to play with the lead. Roberto did his job."
"Baseball questions." -- Weaver, when asked about a teammate throwing a water bottle in his direction during a postgame interview, which cut the line of questioning short and angered the Angels' starter
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Weaver entered Friday's start with an average fastball velocity of roughly 84 mph, second-slowest among non-knuckleball-throwing starters and nearly three ticks down from where he was the last two years. In the third of a four-game series, only six of his 61 fastballs were 84 mph or below, according to PITCHf/x. Thirty-four were 86 or 87 mph and two reached 88.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros:Lefty Dallas Keuchel will try to keep the momentum going on his terrific start to the season when he faces the Angels at 8:05 p.m. CT on Saturday night at Angel Stadium. Keuchel (3-0, 0.80 ERA) has the lowest ERA by an Astros starting pitcher through his first six starts of the season and has posted a quality start in 13 consecutive outings, going 5-1 with a 1.69 ERA in that stretch.
Angels:Matt Shoemaker takes the ball for the third of a four-game series in hopes of maintaining the strong stuff he showed in a tough-luck loss to the Mariners on Monday, when he gave up just three solo homers in 7 1/3 innings, striking out 10 and walking just one. He has a 5.79 ERA in 9 1/3 career innings against the Astros.