Justin Verlander came within four outs of another no-hitter, outpitching an angry Jered Weaver as the Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on Sunday in a testy game that grew particularly heated in the late innings.
Maicer Izturis lined an RBI single to left field with two outs in the eighth for the Angels’ only hit. Verlander (15-5) was trying for his third career no-hitter and second this season.
Weaver was ejected for throwing a pitch over Alex Avila’s head in the seventh, right after Carlos Guillen showboated on a solo home run – infuriating the right-hander.
Guillen flipped his bat, posed at the plate and skipped a few steps sideways, prompting Weaver to yell at him before Guillen rounded the bases.
Sensing trouble was coming, plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt warned both benches. But Weaver threw the next pitch near Avila’s head and was quickly ejected along with Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia.
Knowing he would be tossed, Weaver started walking off the field immediately, gesturing angrily and cursing in the direction of Detroit’s bench.
Verlander was attempting to become the fourth pitcher since 1900 to throw three career no-hitters, joining Bob Feller (three), Sandy Koufax (four) and Nolan Ryan (seven). Verlander pitched a no-hitter at Toronto in May and has lost two more bids in the eighth inning this year.
In a marquee matchup of All-Star aces, Verlander allowed two unearned runs and two walks in eight innings, striking out nine. Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his 28th save in 28 tries.
Weaver (14-5) gave up three runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings.
Verlander walked Bobby Abreu in the fourth, ending any hopes of a perfect game, and walked him again in the seventh. Vernon Wells hit a ball to the warning track in the seventh, but Andy Dirks made the catch.
Magglio Ordonez hit a two-run homer off Weaver in the third. Weaver yelled at Ordonez as he rounded the bases, apparently thinking he had been posing as he watched the shot, which barely stayed fair.
That apparently led to the trouble with Guillen when he homered in the seventh.
Guillen skipped slowly toward first, glaring out at Weaver as the pitcher screamed at him.
There was more to come, too. Erick Aybar tried to bunt for a hit leading off the eighth against Verlander, often considered a violation of baseball etiquette when a pitcher has a no-hitter going in the late innings.
This was a questionable case of that unwritten rule, however, because the Angels were trailing only 3-0 in a game between playoff contenders.
Aybar reached second when Verlander threw the ball away for an error, and the right-hander started at him as he stood on the bag.
Aybar scored from third when the Tigers botched a rundown. Izturis’ single made it 3-2, but Verlander threw a 101 mph fastball to strike out Torii Hunter and end the inning.
NOTES: The giveaway for kids in attendance was a poster commemorating, of all things, Verlander’s no-hitter against Toronto in May. … For several moments in the eighth inning, the Comerica Park scoreboard listed the Angels as leading 8-3 despite not having a hit. … Despite the tension between the teams, Valverde did his normal dance after recording the final out. … Before Izturis’ single, the closest the Angels came to a hit was Alberto Callaspo’s hard grounder in the second inning. Guillen made a backhand stop at second.