|L.A. Angels (75-50) «||2||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||x||4||8||0|
And as usual around the Angels, Torii Hunter had something to do with every positive development.
Hunter hit an early two-run homer, Saunders pitched five effective innings in his return to the rotation and Los Angeles snapped its three-game skid with a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
Hunter, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, claims he threw a tantrum over his AL West-leading team's slump of five losses in six games. The Angels' clubhouse leader has a hit in every game since returning from a month on the disabled list last week, and he reached base three times as Los Angeles managed to remain the only major league team without four straight losses this season.
"I was just hoping the guys were upset, because I was upset," Hunter said. "We have a pretty good team. Traveling back from the East Coast [last Sunday], we were just trying to find our way, but we were able to capitalize on their mistakes."
Hunter's first-inning shot off Edwin Jackson (10-6), his 18th of the season, provided a valuable cushion for Saunders, who looked good after a 2 ½-week regimen of massage, electrotherapy and a cortisone shot to get some life back in his sore shoulder.
"I think that early home run helped Joe relax," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's certainly the most consistent velocity I've seen all year from Joe."
Saunders (10-7) was cool in the 97-degree Orange County heat while making his first start since Aug. 7, after which he went on the disabled list. The left-hander had struggled for over a month before his DL stint, but the Angels' opening day starter allowed four hits while striking out six.
"It was nice to be able to throw the ball without any hint of tightness," Saunders said. "My arm was free, and I just let it go. ... I look back on [the struggles] and say I should have done this a little earlier, but it's my fault. Hopefully if it ever happens again, I'll step up and say something."
Kendry Morales and Chone Figgins added run-scoring hits for the Angels, who avoided being swept at home for the first time since June 2007 and prevented Detroit's first road sweep of the Angels since August 1993. Manufacturing runs with their usual mix of hits, walks and sharp baserunning, Los Angeles capitalized on Jackson's high leg kick to steal five bases, matching a season high.
"They got a couple of runs early with the home run, then they got two bleeders to get another run on me," said Jackson, who yielded eight hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings during his first loss in seven starts since July 19. "That's what a good team does. They find a way to get runs, whether it's hard-hit balls or well-placed balls."
Figgins even appeared to steal home after Hunter's strikeout in the seventh inning, but third-base umpire Chad Fairchild had called time on the field.
Four Los Angeles relievers collaborated on four scoreless innings. In his first appearance in eight days, closer Brian Fuentes hit two batters but hung on for his 36th save in 41 chances.
Adam Everett hit a two-run homer for the AL Central-leading Tigers, who had won eight of 12. Detroit still earned an impressive series victory before opening a key four-game home set with Tampa Bay.
"Going into the game, I felt like we'd score more runs, but I tip my hat to Saunders," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He pitched good. Mike [Scioscia] made us look at a different relief pitcher every inning, which was pretty smart. I thought we might hit a couple of homers today. I was not anticipating Everett would be one of them."
Everett halved the Angels' lead in the fifth with just his third homer of the season, the light-hitting shortstop's first since June 10.
Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning double, but went 1 for 4.
|Torii Hunter victimizes Detroit's Edwin Jackson with a two-run shot in the first inning. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.256|
|Placido Polanco, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.273|
|Magglio Ordonez, RF||3||0||1||0||1||0||0||.276|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.343|
|Marcus Thames, DH||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.248|
|Ryan Raburn, LF||3||1||1||0||0||1||3||.275|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||3||2||.238|
|Gerald Laird, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.221|
|Adam Everett, SS||4||1||2||2||0||1||2||.239|
|2B - Miguel Cabrera (30, Bulger), Ryan Raburn (9, Saunders)|
|HR - Adam Everett (3, Saunders)|
|RBI - Adam Everett 2 (35)|
|2-OUT RBI - Adam Everett 2 (15)|
|SB - Placido Polanco (5, 2nd base off Saunders/Napoli)|
|CS - Placido Polanco (2, 3rd base by Saunders/Napoli)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Inge-Polanco-Cabrera|
|Edwin Jackson (L,10-6)||6.1||8||4||4||4||3||1||2.96|
|Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 115-68, Ryan Perry 25-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 7-7, Ryan Perry 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 29, Ryan Perry 7|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Chone Figgins, 3B||3||1||2||1||1||0||2||.308|
|Bobby Abreu, RF||3||1||0||0||1||0||3||.305|
|Torii Hunter, CF||3||1||2||2||1||1||1||.318|
|Vladimir Guerrero, DH||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.304|
|Kendry Morales, 1B||4||0||1||1||0||1||4||.301|
|Maicer Izturis, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.298|
|Erick Aybar, SS||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.313|
|Mike Napoli, C||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.289|
|Gary Matthews Jr., LF||3||1||1||0||1||1||1||.246|
|2B - Chone Figgins (25, Jackson), Gary Matthews Jr. (14, Jackson)|
|HR - Torii Hunter (18, Jackson)|
|SH - Erick Aybar (10)|
|RBI - Chone Figgins (45), Torii Hunter 2 (70), Kendry Morales (85)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chone Figgins (20), Kendry Morales (29)|
|SB - Chone Figgins 2 (39, 2nd base off Jackson/Laird, 2nd base off Jackson/Laird), Bobby Abreu (27, 2nd base off Jackson/Laird), Maicer Izturis (11, 3rd base off Perry/Laird), Erick Aybar (13, 2nd base off Jackson/Laird)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Aybar-Izturis-Morales, Napoli-Figgins|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Joe Saunders (W,10-7)||5||4||2||2||2||6||1||5.27|
|Jason Bulger (H,8)||1||2||0||0||0||1||0||3.54|
|Jose Arredondo (H,13)||0.2||1||0||0||0||1||0||5.86|
|Kevin Jepsen (H,9)||1.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||5.11|
|Brian Fuentes (S,36)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.01|
|HBP - Raburn (by Brian Fuentes), Laird (by Brian Fuentes)|
|WP - Brian Fuentes (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joe Saunders 89-52, Jason Bulger 17-11, Jose Arredondo 9-5, Kevin Jepsen 17-10, Brian Fuentes 16-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Saunders 3-4, Kevin Jepsen 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Joe Saunders 19, Jason Bulger 5, Jose Arredondo 3, Kevin Jepsen 4, Brian Fuentes 5|
|Attendance - 36329|
|Game Time - 2:49|
|Temperature - 97|
|Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Delfin Colon, Second Base - Mark Carlson, Third Base - Chad Fairchild|