Jered Weaver achieved one of his stated goals on Saturday, keeping the ball in the park against the Oakland Athletics. This was no small achievement, considering the Angels right-hander has been tagged for 16 home runs this season, tied with Minnesota's Phil Hughes for most in the American League.
That was of no solace to Weaver. The A's found plenty of open grass in the outfield, ripping three run-scoring doubles off Weaver and another off reliever Cam Bedrosian in a 4-1 victory at Oakland Coliseum.
"It doesn't really matter how you score runs," Weaver said after losing his fourth consecutive start. "We lost."
Weaver allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking one to fall to 4-8 with a 4.75 earned-run average on the season.
He kept the Angels in the game for five innings before his pitches flattened out and his command wavered in the sixth, when Oakland snapped a 1-1 tie with three runs.
It wasn't Weaver's worst start this season. He opened 2015 with an 0-4 record and 6.29 ERA. It wasn't his best. Weaver went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in five games from May 8 to 30. It was more a step sideways than forward. In his last four starts, Weaver is 0-4 with a 6.58 ERA.
"He battled out there, but there's no doubt he wasn't as crisp today as he has been before," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "Trying to get a fastball into some decent zones to set up his other stuff has been a chore for him the last couple times, and it was this afternoon.
"That being said, he's maybe a pitch away from getting out of a jam and giving us a chance to win, and that's what he does as well as anybody who's out there pitching today."
The Angels hoped Friday night's dramatic 12-7 win over the A's, in which they scored eight seventh-inning runs — half coming on an Albert Pujols grand slam — to overcome a 7-2 deficit, would give them some momentum, perhaps jump-start another winning streak.
They managed five hits Saturday and only four in 7 2/3 innings against A's right-hander Jesse Hahn. They went one for four with runners in scoring position after going seven for 16 in those situations Friday night.
"Just when you think you're going to kick out of it, the next day it's hit or miss again," Weaver said. "It's obviously frustrating. We have a talented group of guys in here. It's just not going the way we want. But we're keeping our heads afloat and winning games when we need to. Hopefully, it continues to get better."
The Angels have had two five-game win streaks this season, so they know they're capable of stringing wins together. But they also have one five-game losing streak and a four-game losing streak, and they haven't been able to push their record, which now stands at 35-34, more than four games over .500.
"We don't want to be at .500; we want to be a little better than that," center fielder Mike Trout said. "From a team standpoint, we have to put together wins. If we just win series, that will put us in position at the end of the year."
The Angels have won series, though. They have a 10-7-5 series record and can win another if they beat the A's on Sunday. But three of their series losses have been three-game sweeps at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees.
"We haven't been able to do some things as consistently as we did last year," Scioscia said. "I think we're seeing an offense starting to emerge, and that's going to help us.
"I think our bullpen is further along than it was last year, but we haven't been able to take advantage of it much because we haven't scored enough runs to get as many leads as you'd want to hold. We just need to keep getting better, keep moving forward, and in some areas we have."