Brett Oberholtzer after his loss against Angels
Brett Oberholtzer said the command of his fastball was the best it’s been all season. But that was only for the first three innings on Saturday. The Astros left-hander lost his command briefly in the fourth inning and he and his teammates paid for it.
The Angels used a three-run fourth inning to propel them to a 6-2 win at Minute Maid Park, snapping the Astros’ four-game winning streak.
“It was probably my best command all year, the first three innings,” said Oberholtzer (4-3), who allowed four runs in six innings in taking the loss. “I was able to spot my fastball pretty well.
“Let up in the fourth and they capitalized. You have to keep pounding the zone. It just got away.”
Oberholtzer retired his first six batters. Then he hung a changeup to Chris Iannetta leading off the third inning. Iannetta took Oberholtzer’s offering deep to left-center at 388 feet to open the scoring.
To open the fourth inning Oberholtzer walked Mike Trout, who has walked five times in the first two games of the series. Back-to-back doubles from Howie Kendrick and Kole Calhoun, followed by a RBI single from Iannetta increased the Angels lead to 4-0.
And against a pitcher the quality of Jered Weaver, that’s a tough deficit to overcome. Especially the way Weaver (10-8) pitched on Saturday in earning the win. In six innings Weaver allowed two runs and six hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
“He’s a veteran and has had some success in this league,” said Astros first baseman Brett Wallace, whose fourth-inning two-run home run that scored Trevor Crowe were Houston’s only runs. “He mixes pitches well.
“You give him a lead like that, he puts it into a different gear and minimizes base runners and takes away situations where you can score runs.”
Like the Angels, the Astros had nine hits, but they left eight runners on base. In the fifth inning Weaver got Crowe looking at a called third strike to end the inning with the bases loaded. The Astros had three singles in the inning (Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Villar and Jose Altuve) but failed to score.
“We had a couple of opportunities tonight,” said Wallace. “It’s a situation where we’ve been doing a great job with guys on base and runners in scoring position recently. Tonight we didn’t get those big hits.”
Altuve had another big night, going 3-for-4, for his fourth three-hit game in September. Since moving up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order on Sept. 1, Altuve is hitting .377 (26-for-69). Gonzalez had two hits and Villar extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games.
Wallace’s home run, a liner to right field at 365 feet, was his 13th of the season. The pitch from Weaver was a fastball in.
“He made a good pitch,” said Wallace. “I was just trying to get on top and stay through it. He’s tough and made some good pitches.
“I was trying to get him early in the at-bat and not let it get too late because he’s really good about keeping you off balanced the deeper into the at-bat you go.”
Oberholtzer came into the game with a 1.91 ERA in seven starts since joining the rotation on July 31. In his six innings on Saturday, Oberholtzer allowed six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. It was a good performance except for the fourth inning.
“It looked like he didn’t have that pinpoint command, that late life that we had seen in a lot of his previous starts,” said Astros manager Bo Porter.