Thomas' slam sends Tigers past Angels
The Detroit Tigers got one hit in the final four innings Sunday. That was all they needed.
Clete Thomas' eighth-inning grand slam - the first of his career - broke open a tie game after the Tigers took advantage of a key error by first baseman Kendry Morales in a 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
"That's the situation that every kid dreams about," Thomas said. "You want to hit a grand slam to win a game. That's as good as it gets."
The Angels led 5-4 going into the bottom of the eighth, but Jose Arredondo (1-3) walked Ryan Raburn and Adam Everett with one out. Jason Bugler came on and walked Curtis Granderson, loading the bases.
Placido Polanco flied out to shallow center, and Raburn bluffed an attempt to score. Gary Matthews Jr. threw toward the plate but the ball was misplayed by the cutoff man, Morales, allowing Raburn to score the tying run.
"Raburn's a heck of a player and he's got good legs, so he drew that throw," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's how to make things happen."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Morales should have just let the throw go through to catcher Mike Napoli.
"He should have just missed it, but he tipped it into foul territory, and that let the run score," Scioscia said.
Magglio Ordonez drew Detroit's ninth walk of the game, and the 15th overall, loading the bases again for Thomas.
"You aren't going to win any games when you walk nine guys," Scioscia said. "You have no chance."
Thomas then hit a 1-1 fastball over the visitors' bullpen in left.
"He threw me an outside fastball and I just wanted to hit it hard and get a run or two," Thomas said. "I didn't think it was high enough to get out, so I was running. I didn't realize it was gone until I rounded first and heard the crowd."
Thomas didn't start the game, but Leyland inserted him as a pinch runner for Miguel Cabrera in the fourth inning. Cabrera had been limited to pinch-hitting duties since injuring his hamstring earlier in the week, and Leyland regretted the decision to put him in the lineup.
"The trainers told me that he wouldn't hurt himself any worse, and he said he felt good, but I hate playing someone that can't go full speed," Leyland said. "I didn't like what I was seeing from him at all, so I got him out of there."
The Angels took the lead in the eighth when Joel Zumaya (2-0) walked Howie Kendrick with the bases loaded.
Juan Rivera made it 9-6 with a two-out RBI double in the ninth, but Fernando Rodney retired Matthews to end the game.
"We didn't execute offensively, and that really hurt us," Scioscia said. "It cost us the game today."
Detroit has won two straight after losing the first four games of a six-game homestand. The Angels are 3-3 on their nine-game trip.
The Angels led 3-0 after hitting two first-inning homers. Chone Figgins led off the game with his first home run of the season, and Bobby Abreu followed with a double - the 2,000th hit of his career. Rookie Rick Porcello retired the next two batters before Rivera made it 3-0 with a drive to left.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom half on two singles and a walk, and Brandon Inge pulled Detroit within a run with a two-out single.
Detroit stranded six runners in the first three innings but took a 4-3 lead on Adam Everett's two-run single with the bases loaded in the third.
"Going 3 for 4 with the bases loaded is pretty good," Leyland said. "If we can load the bases that many times every game, I'll even take 2 for 4."
Porcello left after giving up a leadoff double to Morales in the sixth. Fellow rookie Ryan Perry got the first two outs, but Erick Aybar tied it with a single to left.
The Angels chased Perry with a pair of singles to start the seventh, but Bobby Seay came in to retire Abreu, and Zumaya got Vladimir Guerrero to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Detroit DH Marcus Thames (strained ribcage) played for the first time since April 19. He was activated from the disabled list after Saturday's 2-1 win, and 1B Jeff Larish was optioned to Triple-A Toledo. ... The Angels have Monday off, while the Tigers start a five-game series in Chicago with a day-night doubleheader against the White Sox. Detroit RHP Jeremy Bonderman is scheduled to make his first start in more than a year in the second game. Bonderman has been sidelined since June 1, 2008, after a blood clot was discovered in his pitching shoulder.