Less than 24 hours after using all seven of his relievers for the second time in four games to grind out a 14-inning victory — with starter Dan Haren as his last pitcher — Angels manager Mike Scioscia needed Jered Weaver to pitch deep into the game in his first home start of the season.
The ace right-hander more than obliged, striking out a career-high 15 over 7 2-3 innings Sunday in a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Weaver allowed a run and four hits while throwing 125 pitches.
"I just wanted to go out there, knowing that we had a long one last night, and I wanted to try to extend it as much as possible," Weaver said. "We were able to get three runs, and that was enough to work with.
"It's a tough lineup to face, but I had my fastball command early and my slider was as good as it's been in a long time. So I matched up pretty well with a bunch of righties in the lineup."
The Angels got some additional help from a costly error by Toronto center fielder Rajai Davis that led to a pair of unearned runs in the fourth. Peter Bourjos drove them in with a triple, helping Los Angeles take two of three in the series.
In the eighth, it came down to a showdown between Weaver and Jose Bautista, last year's major league home run leader. Bautista represented the go-ahead run at the plate after a pair of one-out walks, but Weaver struck him out with his final pitch of the day.
"I'm not going to lie. I was obviously getting a little tired," Weaver said. "I had too many walks again (four), but I was still able to extend myself as much as possible. Sosh let me do that. That 3-2 pitch to Bautista was a slider — and thank God he swung at it, or else it would have been bases loaded."
Weaver became the first Angels pitcher with 15 strikeouts in a game since May 23, 1995, when left-hander Chuck Finley fanned 15 Yankees and pitched a two-hitter in a 10-0 win at the Big A.
"I'm not going out there trying to strike everybody out," Weaver said. "I'm just trying to get a first-pitch fastball over for a strike and trying to get ahead in the count and trying to keep my team in the game. And if it takes a couple of strikeouts here and there, then that's what it's going to take."
Weaver, whose 233 strikeouts last year made him the first Angels pitcher to lead the big leagues in that category since Nolan Ryan in 1977, faced a team that produced a major league-best 257 home runs and fanned seven of his first 10 batters. He beat the Blue Jays for the fifth straight time, improving to 7-1 against them with a 2.68 ERA.
"I'm pretty sure a pitcher can get in a team's head. I've seen it happen. But I think anybody that he faced today, he probably would have had their number," teammate Torii Hunter said. "He hit his spots in and out, hard and soft, and he was hitting the corners with his changeup. He had 15 strikeouts, so not too many people were going to hit him today."
This is the first time Weaver has won his first three starts of a season since his 2006 rookie campaign, when he won his first seven outings and his first nine decisions overall. The six-year veteran has allowed just two earned runs in 20 2-3 innings this season. In 2010, he led the majors with a 1.86 ERA in home games.
The Blue Jays had no hits and two walks through the first 4 1-3 innings before Travis Snider beat out an infield single to the right of second base.
Jo Jo Reyes (0-1) gave up three runs — one earned — and six hits in seven innings with six strikeouts.
Hunter opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first. Alberto Callaspo led off the fourth with an infield single back to the box that was too hot for Reyes to handle cleanly, and Mark Trumbo followed with a fly to center that Davis dropped. Two outs later, Bourjos hit a liner toward the wall in right-center that increased the lead to 3-0.
Davis left in the fifth because of right ankle irritation from a previous injury.
"He's dealing with some lingering effects of the ankle and he's probably going to need a couple or three days," manager John Farrell said. "We need to give him a little time to try to get ahead of it. I don't necessarily think the soreness in the ankle led to that particular play, just because he was able to get himself in position underneath the ball."
Angels left fielder Vernon Wells was 1 for 13 with one RBI in his first series against the team he spent his first 12 big league seasons with. His most embarrassing moment came in the Blue Jays' sixth inning, when he lost track of the number of outs after Toronto finally broke through against Weaver with an RBI single by Yunel Escobar.
Bautista took a third strike he thought was off the plate, and Wells caught Lind's lazy fly for the second out. He started to jog in with his head down, then realized it wasn't the third out, and both runners alertly moved up a base. But Weaver bailed out his new teammate by retiring Aaron Hill on a popup.
"He said that hasn't happened to him in seven years," Hunter said of Wells' mistake. "So he got it out of the way, and it probably won't happen to him for another seven years. I've done it once or twice in my career, too."
NOTES: Among the sellout crowd of 43,525 was Anaheim Ducks 50-goal scorer Corey Perry, taking a breather before they begin the NHL playoffs. ... Before the game, the Angels placed SS Erick Aybar on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 3, because of a strained oblique muscle on his left side. RHP Francisco Rodriguez was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake. ... Weaver has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last 10 starts with a 1.90 ERA during that stretch.