Prince Fielder and Delmon Young provided the power the Detroit Tigers were missing with Miguel Cabrera out of the lineup.
Max Scherzer was pretty strong on the mound, too.
Fielder hit a tiebreaking two-run shot in the sixth inning and Young homered on the next pitch to support Scherzer and help Detroit beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 on Sunday.
”It was a really good win because Miggy wasn’t in the lineup,” Scherzer said. ”Other guys stepped up and were able to produce. If we have a lineup one through nine that can produce, we’re a scary team.”
Scherzer (14-6) gave up one run and struck out nine over seven innings in his latest in a string of strong starts.
”Scherzer has a tremendous arm, no question about it,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ”He’s got some deception with that delivery. He throws hard, and he builds everything off that fastball, but he’s got a decent change and he can throw a breaking ball when he needs one.”
Joaquin Benoit struck out two more in a perfect eighth, and Jose Valverde struck out another batter after allowing a run while closing it out.
Angels right-hander Ervin Santana (7-11) gave up four runs and five hits over seven innings.
Detroit and Los Angeles, each vying for an AL wild card with 30-plus games left in the regular season, both rested one of their stars heading into an off day on Monday.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland made the decision to keep Cabrera in the dugout for the first time this year, nursing his sore right ankle with the expectation he will be in the field Tuesday night.
”I’m pretty confident that Miguel will play third base in Kansas City,” Leyland said. ”I think this did wonders for him and it had nothing to do with winning the game.
”Had we not won the game, there would’ve been the people to say `Hey, how can you not at least DH him in the pennant race?’ I didn’t sleep last night. When I talked to Cabrera, I knew the best thing was to rest him no matter what the outcome.”
There was no decision to be made on Angels slugger Albert Pujols, who is simply not healthy enough to play.
”We’re not holding him out to get him ready for the stretch,” Scioscia said. ”If he was available and could play, he would be playing.”
Pujols missed his fourth consecutive game with an injured right calf and the Angels also are targeting Tuesday for his return at home against Boston.
”I’m feeling better,” he said. ”But they want to give me another day off — whatever they want to do.”
Angels star Mike Trout snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a leadoff single in the first inning and scored his 100th run of the year. The rookie struck out in each of his next three at-bats.
Vernon Wells kept the Angels in front by leaping to catch Omar Infante’s fly over the left-field wall in the first, but there was no defense for the consecutive drives by Fielder and Young.
Fielder belted a soaring two-run shot to right field for his 23rd homer. Young sent the next pitch into the left-field seats for his 14th homer to put Detroit ahead 4-1.
Scherzer received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 40,074 after he completed the seventh and got a hug from Leyland. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed four hits and walked one.
Scherzer is the first Tiger since at least 1918 to have at least eight strikeouts in eight straight starts. And he’s the franchise’s first pitcher with nine strikeouts or more in 11 starts in a season since Mickey Lolich had 15 in 1971.
The 28-year-old Scherzer improved to 4-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last four starts. He also has 35 strikeouts in 27 innings over that stretch.
”I feel comfortable,” he said. ”I’m always confident that every start, I can give the team a chance to win.”
Santana, who lost for the first time since July 21, struck out five and walked three.
”My confidence is up, and I’m keeping my team in games,” he said. ”That’s the job.”
The Tigers took two of three in the series. They have won five of their last six games at home and 22 of 28 at Comerica Park since July 4, but trail the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
”We have to try to figure out some way to play better than the White Sox,” Leyland said. ”They’ve been answering every bell so far.”
Los Angeles closed its road trip 4-2 after starting the month 5-12.
”We created a lot of momentum with the start of this trip, but we have to keep that going forward,” Scioscia said. ”There’s a big hole in our lineup without Albert, and the Tigers did a great job of keeping Mike and Mark (Trumbo) in check. Well, they did a pretty good job of keeping everyone in check.”
Scherzer leads the majors with 195 strikeouts and Justin Verlander, whose next start is scheduled for Tuesday against the Royals, ranks second with 192. The last teammates to finish a year 1-2 in strikeouts were Kerry Wood (266) and Mark Prior (245) of the Chicago Cubs in 2003, according to STATS, LLC. … Trout joined Devon White as the two rookies in franchise history to score 100 runs. White had 103 in 1987.