OAKLAND -- The best way to ease the pressure on a tired, beleaguered group of relievers? Keep them from even having to appear in a game.
Jered Weaver did just that in the Angels' series opener against the A's on Monday night, spinning a dominant game and leading his team to a 4-0 victory.
The Halos' bullpen stirred a couple times but ultimately got the night off thanks to Weaver's four-hitter. He improved to 15-1, the most wins in the Majors, while lowering his ERA to 2.13.
Weaver claims that he's no longer worried about striking hitters out at this point in his career, but that didn't stop him from punching out nine A's hitters for the game.
"Coming out of the bullpen, didn't feel so sharp actually," Weaver said. "I was telling Chris [Iannetta], we're going to have to battle today, and I was just hoping something clicked out there. Dan [Haren] said it right, you get through those first two, and something kind of clicks. It was one of those things where didn't feel too good in the bullpen, but was able to figure something out when I got out there."
The A's reached second base on just two occasions, when Eric Sogard advanced there on Coco Crisp's groundout in the sixth inning and when Brandon Inge doubled in the eighth. But Weaver was hardly fazed, promptly retiring the next hitters each time as easily as he retired almost every batter he faced all night.
Weaver's effort saved a relief corps that was both tired, having pitched 14 2/3 innings in its last five games, and struggling, having allowed 23 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings in the first seven games of the team's current 10-game road trip.
"Obviously, Weave set the tone and more. Incredible game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a great time for a game like that any time from Weave, but to get it after what we've been through this week with our bullpen gives us a big lift.
"As we said, it shouldn't take long for some guys to reset. Game like this from Weave goes a long way to helping many areas of our pitching staff."
With just that one loss to his name, the 29-year-old has done much to put his name at the top of the Cy Young Award discussion. Really, though, it was just par for the course -- Weaver has now won each of his last nine starts, and he has 10 wins since his last loss on May 13.
For stretches of Monday's game, the Angels' bats struggled just as much against Oakland's starter, Jarrod Parker.
The Halos scratched out two runs in the second inning thanks to RBI singles from Erick Aybar, fresh off the 15-day disabled list, and Mike Trout, but after that couldn't manage much against the rookie Parker.
In the seventh inning, the offense came alive for a couple insurance runs. Torii Hunter, Parker's senior by 14 years, came up with the big hit, knocking in two runs with a single up the middle to chase the A's right-hander.
Iannetta said Parker was "a few pitches away" from a great game, but the Halos' ability in the clutch -- all of their RBI hits came with two outs -- proved the difference.
And Trout had another impressive night, reaching base four times and stealing three bases. Those swipes put his franchise-record streak of stolen bases without being caught at 27, and they helped make an impression on another opposing manager.
"He's a good player, and he's playing really well right now, with a lot of confidence, and he's doing everything," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's hitting for power, he's running fearlessly on the bases. You look at his numbers, and you see he had a pretty prototypical game tonight for the way he's been playing."
But for all the ability Trout displayed, Monday night belonged to the Angels' ace.
"One of the best pitchers in the game," Iannetta said. "I think he's just doing what he does. I don't think you can make enough of it, and I don't think you can ever downplay it. He's one of the best, and that's what the best do."
Ben Estes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.