Escobar gave up only an unearned run, overcame three errors and Vladimir Guerrero homered to help the Angels beat Detroit 2-1 on Sunday night.
“That’s an incredible game from Kelvim,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We didn’t play real well behind him, and he stepped up and made the pitches we needed.”
Guerrero tied the game with a shot over the left-field fence in the fourth inning. Orlando Cabrera’s RBI single in the fifth put the Angels ahead, making up for his error in the third that led to Detroit’s lone run.
“When the guys make mistakes, it doesn’t bother me,” Escobar said. “I know I have to forget about it and just keep pitching.”
Escobar (10-12) allowed two hits and two walks in eight innings while striking out seven. He had lost his previous two starts.
“He’s getting back to where he was a couple years ago,” Scioscia said.
Escobar was 13-9 for Toronto in 2003 and was a combined 14-14 the next two years for the Angels.
“When I have fastball command, it makes it easy for me because I can use my secondary pitches,” he said. “My secondary pitches are as good as anyone’s in the league.”
Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 38th save in 41 chances, extending his scoreless streak to 24 1-3 innings over 24 outings. After Magglio Ordonez’s leadoff single, Rodriguez retired three in a row.
Los Angeles has won three of four and is 7 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Oakland.
The Tigers have won just eight of 25 games since building a 10-game lead last month, but still have a relatively comfortable lead because Chicago and Minnesota have both gone 5-5 in their last 10 games.
“Why would we be nervous? We’re still up 4 1/2 ,” Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez said.
Wilfredo Ledezma (2-2) allowed two runs, three hits and three walks over six innings. He joined the rotation in his previous start, a 5-3 win against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, in place of the slumping Zach Miner and injured Mike Maroth.
Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney combined to pitch three shutout innings to give Detroit a chance to win their eighth game when trailing after eight innings, but it couldn’t take advantage of a leadoff single in the ninth.
“You can’t be tipping your hat to the opposing pitchers every night,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Sooner or later, you have to hit good pitching if you’re going to win anything.”
Escobar did not give up a hit until he faced Ramon Santiago, the ninth batter in Detroit’s lineup, with one out in the third. Santiago singled, stole second, advanced on a two-out error by Cabrera at shortstop and scored on Ordonez’s bases-loaded single. Left fielder Juan Rivera threw out Craig Monroe at the plate, and Leyland didn’t have any problem with third-base coach Gene Lamont waving him home.
“It’s a good call with two outs,” Leyland said. “You have to make them make the play, and they did.”
On the first pitch of the fourth inning, Guerrero made it 1-all with a line drive that just cleared the left-field fence and extended his hitting streak to a season-best 20 games.
“It went out of the ballpark like a missile,” Leyland said.
The Tigers hosted a nationally televised game on Sunday night for the first time in five years, the second time since Comerica Park opened in 2000 and just the third time since 1996. … With Detroit SS Carlos Guillen (right hamstring) out indefinitely, Detroit purchased the contract of INF Kevin Hooper from Triple-A Toledo and designated INF Don Kelly for assignment. 2B Placido Polanco (left shoulder) is expected to be out for two more weeks, hurting the Tigers in the middle of their infield. … Angels DH Garret Anderson (left quadriceps) was a late scratch and 3B Maicer Izturis (hamstring) was out of the lineup. … The Angeles have not lost a season series against Detroit since 1997.