Tigers offense sputters again in 2-1 loss

Hector Santiago and three Los Angeles relievers held the Tigers to just three hits in Detroit's 2-1 loss to the Angels Sunday.

Gary A. Vasquez

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Detroit Tigers traveled to Angel Stadium to find out how they stack up against another AL power.

They headed home realizing they can’t beat anybody if their high-priced lineup doesn’t score more runs.

David Freese homered off Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning, and the Los Angeles Angels beat Detroit 2-1 Sunday for their third straight victory.

Victor Martinez had an RBI double in the first inning for the Tigers, but Hector Santiago and three Angels relievers combined on a three-hitter. Detroit managed just one hit in the final 25 at-bats of its ninth loss in 10 games at the Big A, getting just one baserunner after the first inning.

Detroit scored just two runs in its three weekend losses to Los Angeles, wasting three strong efforts by starting pitchers. Rick Porcello couldn’t pick up his 13th win in the finale despite seven innings of five-hit ball for the AL Central leaders.

"Other than the first inning, we really didn’t do much against Santiago or any of the relief pitchers they brought in," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "Their pitchers have done well, and their relievers have done the job, but we’re not swinging the bat very well. Teams go through offensive slumps. It happened early in the season, and it’ll probably happen again during the season."

Miguel Cabrera epitomized the Tigers’ frustration, striking out twice in the final four innings to end an 0-for-4 day.

Erick Aybar scored from second base on Porcello’s poor pickoff throw in the fifth for the Angels, who improved the majors’ second-best record to 63-41 in the finale of a 10-game homestand.

Porcello left without a victory that would have matched St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright for the major league lead. Porcello struck out six, including the last four batters he faced, and only allowed a runner to reach second base in the fifth inning, when Aybar and Kendrick had back-to-back singles.

Porcello then threw a pickoff attempt into center field, and Aybar alertly scampered all the way home when Austin Jackson and the Tigers’ middle infielders forgot about the All-Star, failing to hustle the ball home.

"We’ve talked to Austin," Ausmus said. "He knows that can’t happen, and it certainly won’t happen again. He’s got to be aware of where that lead runner is. You can’t take anything for granted. It’s certainly not the way you want to give up the tying run, or any run at all."

Porcello acknowledged his own mistake as well.

"I just didn’t execute the play," Porcello said. "You take a chance, backpicking at second base, but you know that kind of thing can happen. You really have to be on the money with that throw. I yanked the throw and pulled it, and it ended up being a pretty big play."

Freese’s sixth homer of the season helped to finish a tense, pitching-dominated series between teams with two of the majors’ top three records. Los Angeles took three of four in the series despite scoring just eight runs in its victories.

After the previous five batters struck out, Freese delivered one of the biggest hits in his up-and-down debut season with the Angels, driving a one-out pitch from Chamberlain (1-4) to the fake rock pile beyond the center field fence.

Freese and Chamberlain had never faced each other before.

"I just hung a slider there that didn’t do anything, obviously," Chamberlain said. "I was trying to read his swing off the tapes before in his previous at-bats, and I just felt like the slider was a good pitch to throw."

After a rough first inning, Santiago retired 14 straight Tigers in another strong start for the Angels. The left-hander yielded three hits while pitching into the sixth inning of his seventh straight appearance without a loss following his 0-7 start to the year.

Joe Smith (4-0) pitched the eighth for Los Angeles, which got nine innings of scoreless, two-hit relief pitching in its three straight wins over Detroit.

Huston Street pitched the ninth for his third save in four appearances with his new club.

NOTES: Rookie Angels reliever Mike Morin retired all five Tigers he faced after relieving Santiago, striking out Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera to end the sixth. … Cabrera is hitless in nine straight at-bats. "He’s been a little frustrated all year because of the post-surgery," Ausmus said. "Everything isn’t in sync for him, and he’s having trouble right now." … Mike Trout went 2 for 15 in the series.