ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Pitching in a tight game helped Jered Weaver concentrate even more than he usually does.
Weaver outdueled Mike Pelfrey with eight innings of two-hit ball after Albert Pujols drove in a first-inning run, and the Los Angeles Angels beat Minnesota 1-0 on Wednesday to avoid a three-game sweep by the Twins.
“With the score 1-0, you try to focus a little more on executing pitches because you know that one bad pitch can hurt you — especially in a day game with the wind blowing out,” Weaver said. “You have to be a little more focused in on what you have to do. Obviously, you’re going to pitch a little differently in a 1-0 game than you are in a 4-0 game.”
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Weaver (5-5) struck out nine and walked one in his first home start against the Twins since his no-hitter on May 2, 2012. The three-time All-Star retired 19 consecutive batters during one stretch — just four days after teammate C.J. Wilson set down 18 in a row against Oakland.
“After losing the first two games to those guys, I wanted to come out and try to limit runs,” Weaver said. “The game plan going into every game is to try to keep them off-balance. My fastball command was good, I was able to mix in the changeup later, and the defense took care of the rest. Pelfrey threw a great game, and one run was the difference.”
Weaver improved to 8-2 lifetime against the Twins with a 3.28 ERA. Doug Bernier, a 33-year-old rookie who got his first major league hit and RBI on Monday, singled on an 0-2 pitch with one out in the first. The Twins didn’t get another runner until Ryan Doumit walked on four pitches with two out in the seventh, and rookie Aaron Hicks singled with two out in the eighth.
“He was the No. 1 they needed him to be,” Minnesota’s Justin Morneau said. “We came in here winning the first two, and he beat us. We got his pitch count up a little bit early, but he settled in like most of the number one’s do. He changed speeds really well and got ahead in the count. And when he works ahead, he makes that off-speed stuff more effective.”
Ernesto Frieri got three outs for his 25th save in 27 chances, less than 24 hours after giving up five runs including a grand slam by Chris Herrmann in the 10th inning of the Angels’ 10-3 loss. The right-hander ended it by striking out Herrmann with runners at the corners.
“That’s why I like to be a reliever. I don’t like to wait like five days to pitch,” Frieri said. “I want to pitch every day. I like to get the chance the next day. If I didn’t do good today, I just want my (manager) to give me another chance to prove myself.”
Frieri walked his first batter, then hit Bernier with an 0-2 pitch before Morneau came up and hit a not-too-high popup between the mound and first base. Frieri let it drop and started a double play by throwing to first base. Bernier ended up in a rundown and was tagged out by first baseman Mark Trumbo as Clete Thomas advanced to third. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came out and complained to plate umpire Mike Muchlinski that is should have been ruled an infield fly.
“You never expect that popup, but you’ve got to be ready for anything,” Frieri said. “When I saw the ball coming, I heard (shortstop Erick) Aybar screaming: `Drop it! Drop it!’ My reaction was to go to first base. Aybar and (Alberto) Callaspo were like: `Next time, you’ve got to go to third.”
Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton missed his third straight game because of right ankle stiffness.
Pelfrey (4-8) pitched six innings and allowed five hits, including Pujols’ run-scoring single in the first.
“He really deserved to win that game today, but we didn’t score any runs for him,” Morneau said. “These last few starts he’s really been throwing the ball well after coming off the DL. Today he had a little more velocity. I think that maybe that little bit of rest was what he needed. It’s something he can build on and get some confidence out of that.”
The right-hander is 1-5 with a 4.64 ERA in his last 12 starts. His only victory during that stretch was July 6, when he pitched six innings of 3-hit ball in a 6-0 win at Toronto.
“Those first two months were brutal months,” Pelfrey said. “But I feel like I’m back to what I used to be. So it’s exciting for me. And hopefully I’ll continue to get better. My fastball was really good today. The velocity was there and the movement was there. I was locating on both sides of the plate. If you go in to righties, then it opens it up to go away.”
NOTES: With C Joe Mauer back in Minnesota spending quality time with wife Maddie and newborn twin daughters Emily and Maren, the Twins recalled Drew Butera from Triple-A Rochester after placing Mauer on the paternity list. Butera, who spent the previous three years as Mauer’s backup, had 79 at-bats with the Red Wings after recovering from a broken left hand. … Former Minnesota SS and current TV analyst Roy Smalley recalled Wednesday that when he played for the club, owner Calvin Griffith offered a $10,000 bonus to any Twins player whose wife gave birth to twins. Smalley’s twin daughters Catherine and Laura-Leigh were born in 1984, just before he began his third spring training with the Yankees. … Weaver is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA in his last four starts, lowering his overall ERA to 2.98. … Angels CF Mike Trout was 0 for 4, ending his career-best hitting streak at 15 games. … The Angels signed 38 of their 39 draft picks this year, the best percentage in the franchise’s 53-year history. The only exception was RHP Blake Goins, a 12th-round selection who decided to attend the University of Texas.