Angels 5, Tigers 1

Although Torii Hunter has nine Gold Gloves in his trophy case,

he’s flabbergasted by the plays Peter Bourjos is making on a

near-nightly basis in center field at Angel Stadium.

So is Miguel Cabrera after Bourjos robbed the Detroit slugger in

back-to-back at-bats during another win for the surging Angels.

Hunter and Vernon Wells homered, Joel Pineiro yielded five hits

over seven solid innings, and Los Angeles beat the Detroit Tigers

5-1 Monday night for its ninth win in 11 games.

Erick Aybar and Mark Trumbo had RBI singles for the Angels, who

have surged into first place in the AL West with 14 wins in 19

games overall, winning six straight series. But the holiday crowd

was most impressed by Bourjos, the rookie speedster who stole two

bases while warming up for his outfield theatrics.

Bourjos made a sprinting catch at his shoetops on Cabrera’s

sinking liner in the fourth inning, and he brought down the house

on a leaping catch with two runners on in the sixth, hitting the

wall on the fly while snaring another drive from the majors’ 2010

RBI leader.

”I didn’t think about it,” Bourjos said of his daredevil

catch. ”I didn’t have a choice. I was going to hit that wall. …

(Cabrera) can really hit. I might have to play on the track

tomorrow.”

Hunter missed the Angels’ past two games against the Dodgers

with a bruised left hand, but connected in the first inning for his

ninth homer of the season, hitting the fake rock pile beyond center

field at Angel Stadium. After a decade as maybe the majors’ best

defensive center fielder, Hunter has ceded the position to Bourjos

– and he can’t complain.

”I see it a little differently – some good steps, some good

angles,” Hunter said. ”With his breaks on the ball, it’s like,

how is he even close to that? He’s always there, man.”

Pineiro (4-3) walked three and managed just one strikeout, but

largely avoided trouble in his fifth consecutive start without a

loss. He tired in the late innings of his longest start since May

16, but the Angels’ infield ended the sixth and seventh innings

with double plays – not to mention Bourjos’ trouble-saving

defense.

”I think that was the momentum-changer big-time in the

ballgame,” Pineiro said of Bourjos’ leaping catch. ”If you can

keep it in the ballpark, they’ve got a good chance of making the

play anywhere in our outfield.”

Jhonny Peralta hit an RBI single in the fourth for the Tigers,

who have lost five of seven. Furbush (1-2) didn’t make it out of

the fifth inning in his first career start for the Tigers, yielding

five hits and three runs – including one run on a comical balk that

allowed Bourjos to score from third.

And the Tigers’ potent offense was no help this time: Cabrera

and Victor Martinez, two of the AL’s top four hitters, were a

combined 0 for 7.

”They looked like they had somebody standing everywhere we hit

it,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ”I thought we hit some

balls pretty good. … They played a perfect game. Steals, made

some double plays, really good.”

Furbush joined the rotation one day after the Tigers fired

pitching coach Rick Knapp, replacing him with bullpen coach Jeff

Jones after three blowout losses last week in which Detroit yielded

a combined 45 runs. The Tigers’ staff ERA ballooned to 4.39,

third-worst in the AL, and Detroit fell out of first place in the

AL Central during last week’s embarrassments.

Furbush, a minor league starter before joining the Tigers’

bullpen, replaced Phil Coke, who is 1-7 in his 14 starts this

season. Coke pitched the eighth inning for Detroit, giving up

Wells’ 12th homer.

With Bourjos on third after easily stealing two bases against

Furbush’s deliberate delivery, Furbush nearly completed his

throwing motion out of the stretch before scrapping it at the last

moment when his spikes apparently caught on the rubber, causing a

blatant balk.

Leyland still was fairly pleased with Furbush’s effort, saying

he’d make sure the young starter’s confidence was strong before his

next start. Furbush already bounced back mentally from giving up a

homer to his second batter.

”You’ve just got to flush it away,” Furbush said of Hunter’s

early drive. ”That’s what happens. I put a pitch right over the

middle of the plate, and he put it away. … I like knowing my role

as a starter, knowing when I’m pitching, so it’s great.”

NOTES: Angels SS Maicer Izturis got a day off, with Aybar

replacing him. … Los Angeles passed the midway point of a

season-long 13-game homestand, while Detroit opened a seven-game

road trip heading into the All-Star break. … Angels 2B Howie

Kendrick, a first-time All-Star selection on Sunday, extended his

hitting streak to 13 games with a fourth-inning double, matching

the longest by a Los Angeles player this season. … Detroit RHP Al

Alburquerque played catch Monday for the first time since going on

the DL with soreness in his right forearm.