Houston (AP) Jered Weaver went out for a pregame bullpen session Monday night and, to hear him tell it, felt as good as he had all season.
Then something got lost when he took the main mound.
As with much of his season, Weaver struggled, paying dearly for a couple of pitches left up early, and the Los Angeles Angels offered little in the form of run support in losing 6-3 to the Houston Astros in a matchup of playoff contenders.
”It’s more than frustrating; I haven’t been able to keep my team in games for the most part this year,” Weaver said. ”It’s been the story of my season so far for myself.”
Evan Gattis and Carlos Correa hit two-run homers off Weaver, and Dallas Keuchel (18-8) pitched 7 2-3 solid innings to remain undefeated at home this season. More importantly, the All-Star left-hander helped Houston keep momentum by winning its third straight.
The Angels trail the Astros (80-71) by 3 1-2 games and the Minnesota Twins by three games for the AL’s second wild card. The victory put the Astros within a game of first-place Texas in the AL West. Both the Twins and Rangers were off Monday.
The loss was the second straight for the Angels (76-74), who dropped to 11-8 in September. They entered the key three-game stop in Houston having won their previous three series.
”We just couldn’t get much going tonight against (Keuchel),” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
The Angels made it interesting in the ninth, however. David Freese scored on a two-out pinch-hit single by David Murphy. Murphy scored on a pinch-hit single by Collin Cowgill off Oliver Perez to get Los Angeles within striking distance.
But Houston closer Luke Gregerson retired Erick Aybar to end the game for his 28th save.
Weaver lasted 5 2-3 innings for the Angels, giving up five runs and nine hits, including the two homers. He struck out five and walked two.
”I wish I felt as good as I did in the bullpen,” Weaver said. ”That’s probably the best pregame bullpen I’ve thrown in a year. Just couldn’t translate it over to the game.”
Weaver (7-12) entered the game with a 2-0 record and 1.71 ERA in three starts against Houston this season. His record included a shutout May 8 at Anaheim.
Gattis put the Astros ahead with a shot off Weaver that hit the foul pole in left field in the second inning, his 26th homer of the year.
Correa took Weaver deep with two outs an inning later, landing his 19th home run of the season in the Astros bullpen.
”I left a couple of pitches up; they hit a couple homers,” Weaver said. ”That was the difference in the game.”
Keuchel allowed one run and six hits, striking out six and walking one. And he did so without feeling his best.
”It was one of those things; I knew I had to battle,” Keuchel said. ”I was frustrated because I felt every soft hit that they got was a base hit.”
George Springer added to Houston’s lead in the fifth with an RBI single, and Correa drove in Jose Altuve in the seventh with a double to cap the scoring for the Astros.
Altuve, who finished 3 for 4 and a home run short of a cycle, had a chance to add to the scoring in the fifth but was thrown out at home on a single by Jed Lowrie to end the inning.
To hear his teammates tell it, Keuchel’s impressive record at home – 14-0 in 17 starts – gives them extra comfort.
”We know when Dallas is pitching we just have got to give him an early lead, and he’s going to do the rest,” Correa said.
Correa’s big night – his three hits tied a career high and finished a triple shy of the cycle – came a day before his 21st birthday, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Hinch.
”We can buy him a beer tomorrow,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
ODDS AND ENDS
Keuchel’s 203 strikeouts tied Mike Cuellar’s total of 1967 for most by an Astros left-hander. He became the first pitcher in major league history to start a season 14-0 at home. . Weaver passed Nolan Ryan for the second-most starts in Angels history with 289.
Angels: RHP Joe Smith (ankle) had an MRI on Monday. The results showed a sprain, but the team did not have a timetable for his return, Scioscia said. Smith was injured off the field Saturday.
Astros: IF Marwin Gonzalez (finger) was out of the lineup for the seventh time in eight games, but Hinch said he was available to pinch-hit. … OF Carlos Gomez (intercostal strain) missed his ninth straight game but was expected to see increased activity in the next 24 hours.
Angels LHP Hector Santiago (8-9, 3.47 ERA) is 0-2 in eight appearances – including six starts – against the Astros, who will start rookie RHP Lance McCullers (5-6, 3.18).