|L.A. Angels (77-63) «||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||x||3||7||2|
The Angels' sturdy closer didn't flinch under the burden. He kept Los Angeles charging through September in its pursuit of a postseason berth that gets more plausible with every win.
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Zack Greinke pitched seven strong innings of five-hit ball, Mike Trout hit a leadoff homer for the second straight day and the Angels completed their second straight series sweep with a 3-2 victory over the slumping Tigers on Sunday.
Frieri ended it in grand style, finally getting Jhonny Peralta on a grounder with two runners on in the ninth to wrap up the Angels' sixth straight victory. Los Angeles is just one game behind Baltimore in the AL wild-card race after winning 11 of 12 and 15 of 18.
"We're playing like everybody expects us to play," said Frieri, who has a 0.83 ERA at home since joining the Angels in early May. "We still believe we're going to make [the playoffs]. The first day I came here, I believed we were going to make it. Now, I'm 100 percent sure."
With its season-best sixth straight win at Angel Stadium, Los Angeles (77-63) stayed even with Tampa Bay and pulled within one game of Baltimore (78-62). The Orioles and the Oakland Athletics, who open a four-game series in Anaheim on Monday, barely lead the wild-card race, while Detroit (73-66) remained 4 ½ games back with its fifth loss in six games.
Greinke (5-2) struck out seven in his fourth straight victory, and Alberto Callaspo hit an early two-run homer before prolonging the ninth inning with an error. The Angels survived to move a season-best 14 games over .500 -- but still can't afford any significant letdown in the final 3 ½ weeks.
"We took three from one of the best teams in baseball," Torii Hunter said. "We're hot. We're ready to go. All we can do is keep playing and riding out this wave until it falls out."
Frieri had had an epic day of work, even after he struck out Dirks with a Detroit runner on second to end the eighth inning.
Frieri then coaxed another grounder to third out of Peralta, and Callaspo had no problem with it.
Anibal Sanchez (2-5) pitched seven solid innings for Detroit, yielding seven hits without walking a batter, but his teammates couldn't overcome the Angels' early homers.
Andy Dirks homered and Brennan Boesch had an RBI double for the Tigers, who remain just two games behind Chicago atop the AL Central. Detroit visits the White Sox for a key four-game series starting Monday.
"We didn't win any games in this series, but we're right there," Boesch said. "We're only [two] back, so every game going forward is huge, especially the series in Chicago."
Greinke has found a groove with the Angels in his last six starts, going 5-1 and allowing just 16 runs. The former Cy Young winner pitched at least seven innings for the seventh time in nine starts with Los Angeles, providing much-needed durability during ace Jered Weaver's injury absence.
"Every game right now is like do-or-die, so that's kind of cool," Greinke said.
Sanchez struck out six Angels in his eighth start for the Tigers since arriving in a trade with Miami. He is 1-4 in his last six outings despite giving up just five runs over 26 2/3 innings in the last four.
"I thought that was the best Sanchez has been," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He threw the ball better today than I've seen since he's been here. He's getting better each time out."
Trout added another chapter to his jaw-dropping rookie season when he drove Sanchez's second pitch over the wall in deep center. The homer was the 27th for the 21-year-old phenom, setting the team record for a leadoff hitter, and his fourth game-opening homer after doing the same thing Saturday against Justin Verlander.
Callaspo connected in the second inning on a two-run shot to right.
Greinke retired 10 of 11 after Dirks' homer in the fourth, but Young scored in the seventh with a two-out single, a throwing error on Erick Aybar, a wild pitch and Boesch's double. Greinke struck out Peralta to end the threat.
"I don't think I've ever seen an outfield play a better series than they played against us," Leyland said.
|The Angels' Zack Greinke throws seven strong innings to defeat the Tigers for his fourth straight victory. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
|Austin Jackson, CF||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.303|
|Andy Dirks, LF||4||1||1||1||0||2||1||.314|
|Gerald Laird, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.266|
|Miguel Cabrera, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.326|
|Avisail Garcia, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.364|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.312|
|Delmon Young, DH||4||1||1||0||0||2||2||.275|
|Brennan Boesch, RF||4||0||1||1||0||1||0||.243|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||4||0||1||0||0||1||3||.251|
|Alex Avila, C||2||0||0||0||1||2||1||.243|
|Quintin Berry, PR-LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.266|
|Omar Infante, 2B||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.276|
|2B - Brennan Boesch (21, Greinke)|
|HR - Andy Dirks (6, Greinke)|
|SH - Omar Infante (7)|
|RBI - Andy Dirks (29), Brennan Boesch (52)|
|2-OUT RBI - Brennan Boesch (27)|
|CS - Austin Jackson (8, 2nd base by Greinke/Iannetta)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|Anibal Sanchez (L,7-12)||7||7||3||3||0||6||2||4.07|
|WP - Anibal Sanchez (7)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Anibal Sanchez 98-67, Brayan Villarreal 16-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Anibal Sanchez 6-9, Brayan Villarreal 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Anibal Sanchez 28, Brayan Villarreal 4|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Mike Trout, CF-LF||4||1||1||1||0||2||0||.328|
|Torii Hunter, RF||3||0||1||0||1||0||0||.305|
|Albert Pujols, DH||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.289|
|Kendrys Morales, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.280|
|Howard Kendrick, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.290|
|Erick Aybar, SS||3||1||1||0||0||1||1||.281|
|Mark Trumbo, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.270|
|Peter Bourjos, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.227|
|Alberto Callaspo, 3B||3||1||1||2||0||0||1||.253|
|Chris Iannetta, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.253|
|2B - Torii Hunter (20, Sanchez), Albert Pujols (42, Sanchez)|
|HR - Mike Trout (27, Sanchez), Alberto Callaspo (9, Sanchez)|
|RBI - Mike Trout (77), Alberto Callaspo 2 (44)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alberto Callaspo 2 (19)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Aybar-Kendrick-Morales|
|E - Erick Aybar (12, Throwing), Alberto Callaspo (11, Misplayed grounder)|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|Zack Greinke (W,14-5)||7||5||2||2||1||7||1||3.68|
|Kevin Jepsen (H,14)||0.2||0||0||0||1||0||0||3.00|
|Ernesto Frieri (S,18)||1.1||0||0||0||1||3||0||2.03|
|WP - Zack Greinke (7)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Zack Greinke 105-68, Kevin Jepsen 11-4, Ernesto Frieri 38-26|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zack Greinke 4-8, Kevin Jepsen 1-1, Ernesto Frieri 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Zack Greinke 25, Kevin Jepsen 3, Ernesto Frieri 6|
|Attendance - 38216|
|Game Time - 2:45|
|Temperature - 91|
|Umpires - Home - Victor Carapazza, First Base - Eric Cooper, Second Base - Angel Campos, Third Base - Tim Timmons|