Curtis Granderson hit another home run, Brandon Inge also went deep and the Tigers used a five-run seventh inning to beat the two-time defending AL West champions 12-10 on Wednesday night.
"Both teams played a full nine innings, and we were fortunate to be able to come back and get one," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's a good win for us. Some guys had some real good at-bats."
Scot Shields (0-2) threw 18 pitches in the seventh without retiring a batter and walked Gerald Laird with the bases loaded to pull Detroit to 8-7.
"That one inning we didn't really hit a ball hard. But when you make a pitcher work so hard to throw strikes, things tend to go your way," Laird said. "We had a lot of good at-bats, and it seems like Shields didn't have it tonight."
Shields has a 14.40 ERA in seven appearances and is off to one of the worst starts in his career. He has allowed eight earned runs, seven hits, six hits and seven walks.
"I'm pitching horrible," said the right-hander, whose 41 victories in relief are a franchise record. "It's a tough situation, and it's pretty much all me. So I take the blame for the bullpen. I mean, if wasn't for me, I think we'd be all right."
Manager Mike Scioscia is confident that his rubber-armed setup man will turn his season around.
"Scotty's just not repeating pitches," Scioscia said. "What makes him so good is that he's almost like a gunslinger out there. He's fearless and he goes after hitters and finds a way to make pitches. Right now, that confidence level isn't there, and that presence on the mound isn't there. But he'll get it back."
Jose Arredondo followed Shields out of the bullpen, and two more runs crossed the plate when shortstop Erick Aybar made an errant flip to second baseman Maicer Izturis on Inge's RBI infield hit. Then with the infield in, Adam Everett hit a bloop RBI single to left that fell just out Aybar's reach, and Placido Polanco's run-scoring infield hit gave Detroit an 11-8 lead.
Juan Rincon (1-0) got the victory, allowing a run and two hits in an inning of relief after replacing starter Justin Verlander. Pitching for the first time in nine days, Rincon escaped a bases-loaded jam by throwing a called third strike past Kendry Morales, who had a career-high five RBI and his first home run of the season.
Inge made it 12-8 in the ninth with his fifth home run, and Juan Rivera capped the scoring in the bottom half with a two-run double against Fernando Rodney. The right-hander retired Aybar on a grounder to first with the tying run at the plate.
Granderson, who homered his first two times up against Jered Weaver in a loss Tuesday night, gave Detroit a 5-4 lead in the fifth when he pulled Saunders' full-count pitch into the first row of seats, barely inside the foul pole in the right-field corner for his fifth home run of the season.
"We've got a lot of good hitters up and down this lineup, but the key is to make the pitchers work," Laird said. "Tonight we made Saunders work. Then we got to their bullpen and were able to string some key hits together."
The Angels responded with three in the bottom half against the slumping Verlander, who gave up singles to his first four batters that inning. Torii Hunter's RBI single tied it, and Morales' hit drove in two more for an 7-5 lead.
The Tigers got a run closer in the sixth with a two-out RBI single by Everett. But the Angels made it 8-6 in the bottom half with a run-scoring ground-rule double by Izturis.
Verlander, making his first career start at Angel Stadium, allowed seven runs and nine hits in five innings. The right-hander has surrendered 21 earned runs and 27 hits in 21 innings spanning his first four starts.
"When you get in a little stretch like that, you're waiting for something bad to happen," Leyland said. "Sometimes, you just want something so bad, and that's the only thing going on with him right now. He just wants to contribute so much. But he's going to be outstanding for us, no doubt in my mind."
Tigers right fielder Ryan Raburn, called up from Triple-A Toledo earlier in the day when Marcus Thames went on the disabled list, misplayed flyballs by Izturis and Hunter into doubles in the first and third innings.
"The first one he just messed up. He thought it was hit too hard and it fooled him. The second one he lost in the lights," Leyland said.
After the game, the Angels placed LHP Darren Oliver on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained triceps and transferred RHP Kelvim Escobar to the 60-day DL to make a spot on the 40-man roster for 30-year-old RHP Matt Palmer. He will start Thursday night's series finale. ... Verlander, the 2006 AL rookie of the year, is 22-23 with a 4.90 ERA in 56 starts since his no-hitter against Milwaukee on July 12, 2007. ... Saunders gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings. No Angels starting pitcher had allowed more than four runs in any of the team's previous 13 games, the team's longest such streak from the start of the season since the first 19 games of 1982.