DETROIT (AP)—Justin Verlander had his best stuff of the season.
The Los Angeles Angels roughed up Detroit’s ace anyway.
Torii Hunter hit an RBI triple in the fourth inning and added a two-run double in a four-run sixth to help chase Verlander, lifting the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-2 win over the Tigers on Sunday night.
“My arm feels great,” Verlander said. “It was nice to see my velocity in the mid-90s and my curveball was the best its been this year.
“I just don’t like the results.”
Erick Aybar also drove in three runs, helping Los Angeles win two of three in the weekend series.
The Angels have won 10 of 14, giving them a league-high 16 wins to keep pace with the Oakland Athletics in the AL West heading into their series that starts Monday night at home.
“We can compete with anybody, even in the position we’re in health-wise,” Hunter said. “We don’t have our No. 1 starter, John Lackey, or Kelvim Escobar because of injuries. When we get those guys back, we’re going to be even better.”
The Angels are also missing infielder Howie Kendrick.
“We have a good team—even with the injuries,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Detroit had won nine of 13 after starting 2-10, but Verlander has not turned things around on the mound.
Coming off his first win, Verlander (1-4) gave up six runs, seven hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings.
“My stuff was the best its been this season,” Verlander said. “If you see me with that stuff, I’ll be successful most nights. Tonight just wasn’t one of those nights.”
The Tigers were able to unleash their top lineup for the first time this season.
“It’s nice—if they hit,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “If they don’t, it won’t make a difference.”
Detroit designated hitter Gary Sheffield continued to struggle, striking out in his last two at-bats to extend his hitless streak to 16.
“I still think he’s one of the feared and respected hitters in the game,” Leyland said.
Jered Weaver (2-3) allowed two runs, four hits and four walks and struck out five over 6 1-3 innings to win for the first time in four starts.
“We helped him out when he got in a jam,” Leyland said. “He pitched very well, though, don’t get me wrong.”
Weaver was replaced by Justin Speier with two outs in the seventh inning, then the next two batters drove in runs. Edgar Renteria hit a sacrifice fly and Ivan Rodriguez followed with an RBI double to make it 6-2.
Scot Shields pitched two scoreless innings for the Angels.
“I think (Weaver) settled in after his second inning when he started with two a walk and a walk, then he started to make some pitches,” Scioscia said. “You can’t underestimate how tough it is to go through that lineup.”
Weaver said the key to his solid start was throwing unpredictable pitches.
“It was just a matter of keeping people off balance,” he said.
Verlander got off to a strong start, striking out two in the first inning and giving up only one hit in the first three-plus innings.
“He looked like he was going to be in total command,” Leyland said.
Aybar’s sacrifice fly in the fifth put Los Angeles ahead 2-0.
Verlander’s trouble started in the sixth right away when Gary Matthews walked to lead off the inning. Vladimir Guerrero singled and Hunter followed with a two-run double to left.
“I got the grounder I wanted, but he put it in a good spot right down the line,” Verlander said.
Aybar’s two-out, two-run single ended Verlander’s night.
“That was a killer hit,” Leyland said.
Hunter doesn’t expect many teams to quiet Detroit’s lineup.
“On paper, it’s the best you can ask for,” Hunter said. “They’ve got speed, power, smarts, experience. It’s crazy what they’ve got over there.”
Detroit 3B Carlos Guillen (knee) returned to the lineup for the first time since Wednesday, joining a lineup that had missed Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco and Gary Sheffield due to injuries, and started at third base for the first time since 2003, when he was playing for Seattle. … Izturis (low-back spasms) left the game after six innings and is day to day. … Kendrick (hamstring) is expected to be activated this week. … Detroit RHP Jason Grilli threw two scoreless innings, extending his streak to 11 1-3 innings, to help lower the bullpen’s ERA to 0.81 in the last 10 games.