Hammel overshadowed by Angels' Weaver

Hammel overshadowed by Angels' Weaver

Hammel overshadowed by Angels' Weaver
ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver has dominated opponents at Angel Stadium all season, and Saturday night's Orioles club was no exception.

Despite another solid outing from starter Jason Hammel, Baltimore's offense was nowhere to be found against Weaver, who threw eight innings in handing the Orioles a 3-0 loss.

Weaver -- who did not allow a runner to reach third base -- kept the Orioles in fits and was charged with just three hits, lowering his Major League-leading ERA to 1.96. The three-time All-Star, who is a likely candidate to start for the American League on Tuesday, has won all four starts since returning from the disabled list and is 6-0 with a 0.58 ERA in seven home starts.

"It's his park," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said of Weaver, who held the Orioles' first six batters to one hit. "You've got to take advantage of every opportunity, every run."

Only Chris Davis, who reached on a first-inning error, and Wilson Betemit, who doubled, got to second base against Weaver (10-1), who struck out five and faced just three batters over the minimum.

"Weaver's really good; we're not the only ones he's picking on," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of the Angels ace, who joins Sandy Koufax as the only two pitchers since 1950 to take 10 wins and a sub-2.00 ERA into the All-Star break in consecutive seasons. "I think those rocks [in center field] were in place long before they drafted him. He doesn't need any help. He's good by himself. He's just deceptive and has a presentation you don't see very often. He commands the fastball really well."

Added Hammel: "Weaver is pretty much unbeatable at home. So any runs you give up, it makes it that much harder."

It was a tall task indeed for Hammel, who has been Baltimore's most consistent pitcher this season. He continued that trend with his ninth quality start. A Final Vote American League All-Star candidate, who lost to the Rangers' Yu Darvish, Hammel closed an impressive first half with the 110-pitch outing, taking a 1-0 game into the seventh.

"He's given us a chance to win pretty much every time out," Showalter said of Hammel, who heads to the break 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA. "We couldn't ask for more, and knowing Hamm, he's not going to take any feel good from that. He pitched as well as any guy can for the most part."

After stranding a pair of runners in the second and third innings, the 29-year-old Hammel surrendered a run in the fourth when a defensive miscue came back to haunt the Orioles. Mark Trumbo singled and reached second when left fielder Xavier Avery struggled to field the ball in a timely manner, and Trumbo advanced to third on a fly ball and scored on Howie Kendrick's single to right field.

Hammel didn't allow another run until the seventh. With two outs, Torii Hunter sent a ball down the first-base line and into right field for an RBI double. Hunter's hit scored speedy Mike Trout -- who had just beat out a would-be inning-ending double play -- and after Hammel intentionally walked Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales made him pay with an RBI single. Showalter promptly inserted Pedro Strop to record the final out and keep the Angels' lead at three.

But it didn't matter much with Weaver cruising through eight innings. The righty issued one walk -- a two-out free pass to Jim Thome in the fourth inning. Thome had a seventh-inning single off the right-field wall that resulted in the second out when he tried to stretch it to a double.

"I wish we could have handled the ball in the field a little better and it would have been a little closer game," Showalter said. "It's tough to handicap. It's pretty obvious. Weaver's really good and we didn't make many adjustments. It's really tough because you know what he's doing and he's able to do it and he's been doing it for a long time."

Asked to assess his first half, Hammel -- who was acquired in an offseason trade with Colorado -- said it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good enough.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction personally, but I still got some work to do obviously," said Hammel, who was demoted to the Rockies bullpen late last season and has been of the biggest surprises in baseball in the first half.

"It's a good start but we still got a half season left, it's a lot of ball games. And we are still in this thing. My season doesn't really matter it's collectively how we are doing."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.