The Grand Slam: Angels pull even with A's in AL West standings

Mark Townsend

A wild week in the American League standings continued on Saturday with changes coming in two playoff positions. Beginning in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels moved into a virtual tie atop the division — the Angels are percentage points ahead — thanks to their 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers and Oakland's 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves

That means Sunday will mark the first day since April 28 that Oakland won't enter play with the division lead to themselves. If you can imagine it, Oakland was actually tied with the Texas Rangers at that point as both teams were 15-10. Thanks largely to injuries, the Rangers now own the worst record in baseball at 47-76.

For the Angels, it will be their first day (excluding opening day) owning a share of first place since July 5, 2011. To get there on Saturday, they had to make up four games over a four-game stretch, so they're definitely taking advantage of the A's rare extended slump (now a four-game losing streak).

''We haven't accomplished anything yet,'' Albert Pujols said. ''Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. When we accomplish our goal, then we can talk about it.''

In Saturday's win, the Angels were led by Pujols and Howie Kendrick, who each homered, and Cole Kalhoun, who collected his seventh multi-hit game in the last eight. Kendrick also made that diving stop in the ninth inning to seal the win. Amazingly, Mike Trout finished 0 for 5 and is now hitless in 16 at-bats during their current four-game winning streak.

DETROIT WINS SHOWDOWN, RECLAIMS WILD-CARD SPOT: One day after the Seattle Mariners passed them in the second wild-card position, the Detroit Tigers leapfrogged back with a 4-2 win over those same Mariners. But not only did they beat Seattle, they finally overcame Felix Hernandez, defeating him for the first time in his last nine decisions against them. 

In doing so, the Tigers also snapped Hernandez's MLB record of 16 straight starts of at least seven innings pitched and no more than two runs allowed. Although it was more about the physical punishment doled out than his actual performance. Hernandez was hit on his left hip by Ian Kinsler's comebacker in the fourth inning, and took another glancing shot from Miguel Cabrera in the fifth. He didn't return for the sixth.

''He's fine, we just took him out as a precaution after he got hit again by Miguel in the fifth,'' Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Also fine? David Price. He won his first-ever matchup against Hernandez by tossing eight innings of one-run ball. He struck out seven and allowed three hits to earn his first Tigers' win. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 25th save, but it wasn't without drama as he allowed one run on two singles.

DEREK JETER DELIVERS GAME WINNER AS YANKS SNAP LOSING STREAK: Playing in front of the second sellout crowd (31,402) at Tropicana Field this season — which sounded more like a Yankees home crowd — the Captain Derek Jeter drew the biggest roar of the day after coming through with a tie-breaking single in the ninth inning. That hit would also hold up as the game-winner, as the Yankees snapping their five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays

After Brett Gardner led off the ninth with a double against Jake McGee, Jeter was actually first asked to bunt, which didn't work. With two strikes, he pulled back and laced a single to right field that scored Gardner and started a Jeter chant at the Trop.

''There are a lot of Yankees' fans down here because spring training is here,'' Jeter said. ''Seemed like quite a few were in the stands, so it's almost like a home game.''

''I'm not so sure I've heard his name chanted that loud in an opposing stadium this year,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The vocal Yankees crowd was also overjoyed by their pitching performance. Rookie Shane Greene struck out 10 over six strongs innings. Then the bullpen crew of Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and David Robertson nailed it down with three perfect innings.

CLAYTON KERSHAW GOES THE DISTANCE BUT LOSES TO BREWERS: Clayton Kershaw was his usual dominant self on Saturday night, going the distance for his 17th career complete game and striking out 11. But two mistakes proved costly. In the fourth inning, Kershaw allowed a two-run opposite field homer to Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, which opened the game's scoring. In the sixth, Carlos Gomez greeted him with a monster homer to the back of the Dodgers bullpen, and that would be all starter Yovani Gallardo needed as Milwaukee stole a 3-2 victory and snapped Kershaw's 11-game winning streak. 

Milwaukee's long-time ace allowed one run on six hits over eight lights out frames. Things got a little bit interesting in the ninth when Matt Kemp led off with a home run, but Francisco Rodriguez rebounded to earn career save No. 342, which moved him past former Brewers closer Rollie Fingers for 11th place on the all-time save's list.

With the win, Milwaukee has taken four of five from Los Angeles this season. With the Cardinals loss to San Diego, Milwaukee's lead in the NL Central grows to 2 1/2 games.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!