The Detroit Tigers have played four straight series without winning one as their AL Central lead dwindles.
The Tigers have a chance to end that streak Sunday night in the finale of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park.
Detroit (84-52) hasn’t won a series since taking two of three at Boston from Aug. 14-16. It’s the only series in the previous seven won by the Tigers, who have dropped 16 of 24 games.
They missed a chance to capture this series Saturday night when closer Todd Jones blew the save in a 7-2, 10-inning loss. Jones recorded the first two outs of the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead, but an error by shortstop Carlos Guillen allowed Maicer Izturis to reach base and eventually score the tying run on Vladimir Guerrero’s single two batters later.
The Tigers’ sloppiness continued in the 10th when an error by shortstop Neifi Perez started the inning and helped open the door to the Angels’ five-run rally. Chone Figgins’ three-run triple snapped a 2-2 tie.
Detroit leads the second-place Chicago White Sox by 4 1/2 games and third-place Minnesota by five games in the AL Central.
The Tigers’ slump can be attributed in part to a struggling lineup. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez went 0-for-4 on Saturday and has two hits in his last 18 at-bats. Right fielder Magglio Ordonez was 1-for-5 and is 5-for-33 over his last nine games.
Guillen suffered a pulled hamstring running the bases in the ninth inning and left the game before being replaced by Perez. His status for Sunday is uncertain.
“It’s high up rather than down in the middle of the leg, which hopefully is a little bit encouraging,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Los Angeles (71-65) gained ground in the AL West and trails first-place Oakland by 7 1/2 games. The Angels have seven meetings left against the Athletics in the final 10 days of the season.
“That’s a great win,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us, but if we can consistently do the things we did tonight, we’re going to put up some wins.”
Guerrero went 4-for-6 to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 19 games. He’s 34-for-77 with 17 RBIs over that span.
Scioscia will turn Sunday to Kelvim Escobar (9-12, 3.79), who’s 6-0 with a 3.11 ERA and two complete games in seven starts against the Tigers.
The right-hander pitched a seven-hitter for his first complete game of the season in his last start, but was on the short end of a 2-0 loss at Seattle on Monday.
The Angels have scored three runs or less in nine of Escobar’s 12 losses this season.
“It’s happened to me before,” Escobar said. “It didn’t really surprise me.”
Los Angeles and Detroit have alternated wins and losses in their first seven meetings this year.
Wilfredo Ledezma (2-1, 2.27 ERA) will make his third start of the season for Detroit. He’s 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in the first two outings, but didn’t last past the sixth inning in either one.
The left-hander is 0-2 with an 11.32 ERA in three career appearances against the Angels, including two starts.
Ledezma is holding left-handed hitters to a .193 average this year.