When Jered Weaver arrived for work Tuesday afternoon, the first thing he did was ask clubhouse attendant Angel Miranda to turn up the air conditioning.
Getting swept by the lowly Houston Astros at home, it would seem, had made things uncomfortably warm for the Angels. Weaver generally thrives in that kind of heat, though: Ten times in the last two seasons he's taken the mound following a loss and pitched the team to victory.
But turning the Angels around this time proved to be more than a one-man job. So it fell to Albert Pujols to follow a strong performance by Weaver with a long two-run home run into the left-field bleachers in the eighth inning to give the Angels a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs, ending a four-game losing streak.
BOX SCORE: Angels 4, Chicago Cubs 3
“You got the guy you want up there,” Scioscia said of Pujols, who came into the game hitting .194 without a home run in his last 10 games. “He's a unique hitter. Because even when he's not locked in or he's not as comfortable as he can get in the batter's box, he finds a way to hit the ball hard somewhere.
“He's an elite hitter and there's not many guys that can do what he's done.”
The homer was the first in Pujols' two seasons with the Angels that put the team ahead in the sixth inning or later. He did that 41 times in 11 years in St. Louis. But Weaver was impressed by more than just the timing.
“To hit a ball like that at nighttime here, you've got to put some pretty good wood on it,” he said.
“That's the swing we're used to seeing out of him. He came up in a big spot and put a good swing on it.”
Weaver did his part to get Pujols to the plate in that big spot by holding Chicago to just one earned run in six innings. He didn't have much help from his teammates, though, with the Angels defense allowing two more runs on Alberto Callaspo's third-inning error. And at the plate the Angels were held to six hits and two runs by Chicago starter Scott Feldman, who retired 12 of 13 hitters in one stretch.
The offense, which had scored just five times in its last three games, finally awoke in the seventh, chasing Feldman on a double by Josh Hamilton and a run-scoring single by Howie Kendrick, his third hit of the game.
An inning later the Angels took their first lead of the night — and just their second in four games — when Erick Aybar greeted reliever Carlos Villanueva (1-4) with a single. One out later Pujols came to the plate and drove the first pitch he saw over both bullpens for his ninth home run of the season.
Weaver was gone by then, but not before pitching well enough to stop a losing streak for the second time in as many starts.
“I take the same approach regardless of whether we've won four games in a row or lost four games in a row,” he said. “I just want to go out there and battle and compete and try to keep us in the game to give us a chance a win.
“And just let these guys take care of the rest.”