Angels 11, Tigers 6

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Gary Matthews Jr. drove in three runs with his bat, and took four away with his glove.

Matthews broke out of an 0-for-19 drought with a pair of RBI singles and a run-scoring double after robbing Craig Monroe of a grand slam in the first inning, and the Los Angeles Angels beat the defending AL champion Detroit Tigers 11-6 Friday night in a matchup of division leaders.

Jered Weaver (7-5) won for the first time in five starts since beating the Dodgers on June 16. The right-hander pitched 5 1-3 innings, allowing six runs and a season-high 11 hits—including solo homers by Placido Polanco and Curtis Granderson.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to work my way out of that first inning, but Gary Matthews made a great play and pumped up the whole team,” Weaver said. “That was a momentum changer for me and the whole team. The game could have been a lot different if he didn’t make that play. He’s fun to watch out there.”

Matthews pulled back Monroe’s grand slam bid after the Tigers scratched out two runs. Magglio Ordonez fouled off a pitch with the bases loaded and Mike Napoli was called for catcher’s interference, allowing Granderson to score. The second run came in on Carlos Guillen’s RBI single.

“It looked like we were going to get a six spot, but we got a two spot,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “We were staying after Weaver pretty good. We had a lot of bright spots, offensively. We outhit them, we outhomered them, but we got beat. I would have liked to win 12-11, but if you give up 11, you’re supposed to get beat.”

The game featured four of the top seven hitters in the AL by average— Ordonez, Polanco, Vladimir Guerrero and Angels teammate Chone Figgins, who was 4-for-5 and raised his average to .333.

Nate Robertson (6-8) gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out six. The left-hander retired only two of his first 13 batters—one on a sacrifice bunt—but got a couple of extra outs thanks to baserunning blunders by Garret Anderson and Orlando Cabrera. Robertson is 0-4 with an 8.91 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels.

Los Angeles broke it open in the seventh against Chad Durbin with Matthews’ RBI single and a two-run double by Maicer Izturis. The 11 runs by the Angels equaled the combined total they scored in Weaver’s previous five outings.

Los Angeles extended its margin to 8-2 in the second with RBI singles by Guerrero and Matthews. But Robertson held them to one hit over the next 3 2-3 innings—striking out the side in the fifth—while his teammates started to chip away at the Angels’ lead and get within 8-6.

“Nate caused himself some problems, but he did a heck of a heck of a job to save our pen,” Leyland said. “Obviously, it was in a losing cause, but Nate showed me a lot—hanging in the way he did and shutting them down. It could have been a disaster for our bullpen. That was a real important performance after the first couple of innings.”

Granderson homered in the fourth, his 16th of the season and 14th with the bases empty. The Tigers narrowed the gap to 8-5 in the fifth with Sean Casey’s RBI single and Monroe’s sacrifice fly. Polanco made it a two-run deficit in the sixth with a one-out homer that chased Weaver.

Polanco was 5-for-5, bumping his average to .340 and tying a career high for hits. The first-time All-Star entered the game as the hardest player in the majors to strike out—fanning once every 22.4 at-bats.

“He just hits everything and never strikes out, so you have to locate all your pitches to that guy,” Weaver said. “He’s a little guy, but he toes up there and battles. He’s a great hitter and has a great approach.”

The Angels, inspired by Matthews’ fielding gem on Monroe, scored six in the first—including RBI doubles by Figgins, Matthews and Izturis. Napoli, who drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder, strained his right hamstring stealing second base during the rally and had to leave the game.

The six runs represented the Angels’ most productive first inning since April 29, 1999, when Andy Sheets’ grand slam capped a seven-run uprising against Toronto’s Roy Halladay in a 17-1 rout at Anaheim.

Notes

The Tigers placed RHP Zach Miner on the bereavement list due to a family emergency and recalled RHP Jose Cappelan from Triple-A Toledo, but his plane was delayed. … Tigers DH Gary Sheffield was back in the lineup after missing two games because of a sore shoulder. He went 0-for-4 with a walk. … Tigers RHP Fernando Rodney, sidelined since June 24 with tendinitis in his shoulder, began a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo. He pitched one hitless inning against Pawtucket with two strikeouts and a walk.

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