Hank Conger, left, approaches pitcher Jered Weaver (1-4) during the third… (Victor Decolongon / Getty…)
The Angels lost one starting pitcher when they placed Jason Vargas on the disabled list Friday afternoon. Then a few hours later they appeared to have misplaced another.
Oh, sure, that looked like Jered Weaver on the mound at Angel Stadium -- stringy blond mane, scruffy facial hair, big red No. 36 on his back. But that guy sure didn't pitch like Weaver, giving up four runs and a season-high nine hits in six innings of a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"There's not one issue that Weav's dealing with. It's a combination ... of things," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said of his ace, a 20-game winner last year who missed 45 games this season with a fracture in his left arm.
"There's a layoff involved. There's trying to work back into your stamina. There's probably a number of things that add up to him being not as crisp as he will be. Or can be."
However you explain it, the guy wearing Weaver's uniform hasn't pitched like him for quite some time. By exiting after six innings Friday, he's gone eight consecutive starts without reaching the seventh inning, a career-long streak dating to last season. He's also given up at least four earned runs in three consecutive games for the first time since July 2009, and after losing three straight games for the first time in more than two years, his record is 1-4.
He didn't lose his fourth game last year until September. But then wins aren't the only thing that's down this year. So is Weaver's velocity.
His fastball hit 90 mph twice in the first inning, but then he gave up a pair of home runs -- both on mid-80s fastballs -- in the second. Pedro Alvarez hit the first, driving a full-count pitch into the right-field bleachers, and No. 9 hitter Jordy Mercer made it 3-0 four batters later, hitting a two-out, two-run shot to left field.
By the fourth inning, Weaver's curveball was hovering at 70 mph and his fastball had dropped into the low 80s on the radar gun.
"I felt good," Weaver said. "Obviously, the radar readings are what they are. I'm not going to be throwing 93 any more. Those days are gone. I just have to locate what I've got."
The Pirates got one more run off Weaver after Peter Bourjos lost Starling Marte's easy fly in the twilight, allowing the ball to one-hop the center-field wall for a two-out run-scoring triple in the fourth. Their final run came off reliever Billy Buckner in the ninth when Andrew McCutchen doubled home Mercer.
That proved to be more than enough offense for rookie phenom Gerrit Cole (3-0), who held the Angels to two hits in six innings, retiring 11 in a row at one point. But Albert Pujols led off the seventh with a home run into the rock pile beyond the center-field wall. Cole then walked the next batter, took a Howie Kendrick line drive off his left thigh -- he got an out on that play -- and gave up an RBI single to Alberto Callaspo before leaving.