Phil Coke thought he threw a pretty good pitch to Albert Pujols.
It wasn’t good enough.
Pujols hit a tiebreaking double off Coke in the 10th inning and the Los Angeles Angels beat Detroit 3-1 on Thursday for their ninth straight victory over the Tigers.
The struggling Coke (0-5) was charged with both runs in the 10th, raising his ERA to 6.56.
”I don’t know what’s not clicking,” he said. ”I feel like I’m not contributing in a positive way and that’s a tough pill for me to swallow because I pride myself on what I do and I haven’t got anything to show for it.”
Mike Trout had four hits and was in the middle of the decisive rally for the Angels, who completed a three-game sweep. Jered Weaver pitched seven strong innings in a tight duel with Detroit right-hander Doug Fister.
J.B. Shuck singled leading off the 10th against Coke and went to third on Trout’s single to right field. Pujols sent a drive to deep center, where Austin Jackson tried to make a difficult catch with his back to home plate.
The ball tipped off the webbing of Jackson’s glove, hit the wall and trickled to the ground.
”The Pujols pitch wasn’t a bad pitch. I think that maybe it wasn’t the right pitch in that particular moment,” Coke said. ”I didn’t feel like I made the perfect pitch to him by any means, but the last thing I thought he was going to do is hit it as far as he did. It was away from him. I looked at where (catcher Brayan) Pena was set up and he was going away from Pujols with his glove, going away to receive the ball. He found it with his barrel.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: ”That ball was crushed.”
After an intentional walk to Howie Kendrick loaded the bases, Josh Hamilton made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly.
Earlier in the game, neither team could do much against the starters.
Fister yielded one run and seven hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out four. After the Angels tied the score in the fourth, he gave up only one hit in his final three innings and didn’t allow a runner past second.
”He did a tremendous job. The fact that he was able to contain that offense, that shows that he’s a good pitcher,” Pena said. ”He kept us in the ballgame and he gave us a chance to win the ballgame. That’s what you ask. He pitched beautifully.”
Fister was relieved by Al Alburquerque, who pitched a scoreless eighth. The Angels got runners to second and third with two outs in the ninth against Joaquin Benoit, but he struck out Erick Aybar swinging at a 3-2 pitch to get out of the jam.
Making his sixth start since returning from a broken left (non-throwing) elbow, Weaver gave up one run and four hits. He walked two and struck out six.
After the Tigers scored in the second, Weaver allowed only a hit and a walk in his final five innings. He retired his last 13 batters.
”We’re confident that he’s going to pitch more like he did today than the way he has in a couple of his last starts,” Scioscia said.
Kevin Jepsen (1-2) worked a scoreless ninth and Ernesto Frieri got three outs for his 19th save in 21 chances.
Scott Downs replaced Weaver and set down the leadoff man in the eighth. But Downs then allowed Omar Infante’s pinch-hit double and hit Jackson with a pitch. Downs was pulled for Michael Kohn, who struck out former Angel Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera, both swinging, to end the inning.
”Having a situation with Torii, as clutch as they come, and then you’ve got the best hitter in the league up next,” Scioscia said. ”What he did to get out of that eighth inning was huge.”
Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the second on Pena’s two-out RBI single. It scored Victor Martinez, who singled with one out and went to second when Jhonny Peralta followed with a single.
Los Angeles tied it in the fourth on three consecutive singles to start the inning. Brad Hawpe’s single to right scored Hamilton from third. Alberto Callaspo was thrown out at third by Hunter on the play.
NOTES: Struggling closer Jose Valverde, recently designated for assignment, has agreed to go to Triple-A Toledo to try and work out his problems. … Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez, on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder strain, threw to batters before the game. … Cabrera is the sixth player since 1920 with 1,200 RBIs and 300 home runs in his first 11 seasons. The others were Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Jeff Bagwell and Pujols. … Cabrera went 1 for 4 on Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, which tied a season high. … The Tigers begin a three-series road swing this weekend at Tampa Bay. Max Scherzer looks to run his record to 12-0 on Friday night when he faces Alex Colome (1-0, 0.00 ERA).