DETROIT -- John Lackey was sure the Los Angeles Angels were going to start scoring runs again soon. He happened to be in the right place when they did.
Bengie Molina's three-run double capped a six-run third inning and Lackey won for the third time in four starts Sunday in the Angels' 9-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Los Angeles hadn't scored more than five runs since beating Oakland 9-5 on April 23, a span of 18 games.
"We knew it was going to come," Lackey said. "They have been working hard, and hopefully they will be able to keep this going."
Lackey (4-2) took advantage of the offense and allowed only three runs and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. He walked a season-high five batters.
"The first couple innings, John's stuff was very good," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. "After that, he got out of whack a little, but he got deep into the game and held that team to three runs. That's what you want."
Nate Robertson (1-3) took the loss, allowing six runs -- only one earned -- on five hits and two walks in three innings.
"I felt I wasn't throwing that bad, for the most part I was getting ahead of hitters," he said. "One big hit was a double with an 0-2 count to Molina. It was a slider. That was not my best pitch. It was my fault. It's frustrating."
The Angels broke open the game in the third, helped by poor Tigers defense.
After Adam Kennedy's leadoff single, Robertson made a bad throw -- allowing Chone Figgins to reach first. Darin Erstad grounded into a force at second, and Vladimir Guerrero followed with an RBI single.
Garrett Anderson grounded to first, but Carlos Pena's throw to the plate was too late to get Erstad.
After a strikeout, Orlando Cabrera made it 3-0 with a single to center. Robb Quinlan walked to load the bases for Molina, who doubled down the left-field line.
"In the last few games, the quality of our at-bats has been improving," Scioscia said. "That was going to lead to improved production, and that's what we saw today."
Juan Rivera added a three-run homer off Matt Ginter in the fourth, his first of the season, to push Los Angeles' lead to 9-0.
"Juan's one of those guys who is fighting for at-bats right now," Scioscia said. "So it is good to see him get a big hit."
The Tigers got a run in the fifth on Omar Infante's RBI double, but another mistake killed the rally. With no one out and runners on second and third, Nook Logan hit a grounder to Erstad at first. Erstad stepped on the bag, then ran across the diamond to tag Infante, who had broken for third while Pena never moved.
"It was just one of those games," Brandon Inge said. "We didn't play good defense and we didn't hit the ball well, either. It's just one you have to write off."
Detroit lost another runner in the next inning when Carlos Guillen was thrown out trying to stretch a double.
"Sloppy baseball stinks and today stunk," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "We played a very poor game. We made a lot of mistakes. Why it happened, I couldn't tell you."
Craig Monroe's RBI double made it 9-2 in the seventh, and Jason Smith added a run-scoring single in the eighth.