ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — On most nights, Collin McHugh would have put himself in the win column with this kind of performance. On Wednesday, he had the misfortune of going up against Jered Weaver.
The Houston Astros’ right-hander nearly matched Weaver pitch for pitch through seven innings, holding the Los Angeles Angels to just two runs and four hits while striking out seven. One of the hits, though, was a tiebreaking home run by Albert Pujols in the sixth, and the Astros dropped a 2-1 decision that prevented them from winning their third straight series.
“You know coming into it that Weaver’s arguably one of if not the best pitchers in this league,” McHugh said. “So you know that you’re not going to be able to give up a lot and that it’s going to be a dogfight.”
McHugh (2-3) lost his third straight decision over four starts. The Angels only other run came on Erick Aybar’s RBI single in the third.
Pujols who homered twice on Sunday against Tampa Bay ace David Price, drove a 2-1 pitch into the top tier of the double-decker bullpen in left field for his 13th homer this season and 505th of his career to surpass Eddie Murray for 25th place on the career list. On hand to see it was Air Force staff sergeant Tom Sherrill of Pomona, California, who came up with Pujols’ 500th home run ball on April 22 at Nationals Park in Washington.
“What I did two or three weeks ago, I put that in the past. I’ve flipped the page,” Pujols said. “My goal is to try to concentrate on what’s in front of me and help this organization win. I don’t get caught up too much in numbers. You can’t get caught up on what you’ve done. You need to make sure you stay focused.”
Weaver (5-3) threw 94 pitches while going the distance for the 12th time in 241 career starts and first time since Aug. 6, 2012, when he beat the Athletics 4-0 with a four-hitter at Oakland. The three-time All-Star is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA over his last seven starts.
“It just looked like he had us out in front all night,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “He had his curveball going early and just kept us out in front and was inducing weak contact. His pitch count never got up too high and he was never in any really serious trouble. He was attacking early in the count with his fastball, then going to his secondary stuff and keeping us off-balance.”
Weaver struck out five, walked one and retired 17 of his last 19 batters – including 10 straight after giving up a leadoff homer to George Springer in the fourth.
“Those guys roughed me up a little bit at their place, so I wanted to come in here and have a good game and keep us in it as much as possible,” Weaver said. “Their guy was throwing a good game, too. So it was nice to come out on top.”
Weaver hit Springer with a pitch with one out in the ninth, then picked him off after getting a sign from manager Mike Scioscia in the dugout. He got the final out by retiring Dexter Fowler on a popup to third base.
“In that situation, I’m not really worried about baserunners. But Scioscia called a great pickoff there,” Weaver said. “Usually when I look over, I can see a little bit of the runner. But when I looked over before that pick, I couldn’t see him. So I figured he was off the bag pretty good. I just made a good quick move, and that definitely took a lot of pressure off.”
NOTES: The jockey and trainer for Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome – Victor Espinoza and Art Sherman – each threw out a ceremonial first pitch. … Pujols has 43 home runs against the Astros, tying Aramis Ramirez for the most among active players. … Collin Cowgill started in CF for the third time this season and robbed Houston’s Jose Altuve of a hit with a diving catch of his shallow flyball leading off the game. Altuve was 0 for 4, ending his career-best 12-game hitting streak. Springer robbed Hank Conger of extra bases with a diving catch near the warning track in right center to end the second inning.