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Angels, Hanson keep Tigers at bay

The SportsXchange

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Tommy Hanson shut out one of the most feared lineups in baseball for six innings, then watched as the offense broke through with some big hits late in the game as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 8-1 on Friday night at Angel Stadium.

The Angels had 16 hits but couldn't feel comfortable until they put up five runs in the eighth inning. The big hit was a two-out, bases-loaded triple by Peter Bourjos, his third hit of the night, that boosted a 3-0 lead to 6-0.

Albert Pujols added three hits and two RBI in support of a beleaguered pitching staff that entered the game with the worst team ERA (5.43) in the American League.

"A one- or two-run lead against those guys over there is not a lot," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Tommy had to keep pitching. We got out of some big jams, and there's no doubt as the game wore on our at-bats got better and we had our share of clutch hits."

Hanson (2-1) had his best start as an Angel, holding the potent Tigers lineup scoreless for six innings before giving way to the bullpen. He gave up six hits and walked four but got two key double-play balls that kept the Tigers from staging a big rally.

"Tommy was on the edge for a while," Scioscia said. "He was walking that tightrope but still, that's a strong outing against a good offensive team."

Hanson agreed.

"That was the story of the night," he said. "Me walking guys and getting into jams, and getting out of them. There were a lot of good defensive plays, so, I'll take it."

Mark Lowe relieved Hanson to start the seventh and the Angels leading 2-0, and quickly found trouble. After retiring the first batter of the inning, Lowe walked Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, bringing up reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera.

Scioscia countered by going to lefty Sean Burnett out of the bullpen, but Cabrera singled to left field, loading the bases. Next up was the left-handed-hitting Prince Fielder, and the matchup worked out well for the Angels. Fielder grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play and the Angels maintained their 2-0 lead.

The Angels increased the margin to 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh on Pujols' two-out, RBI single off Tigers starter Anibel Sanchez (2-1), who gave up three runs (two earned) and 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"You know, this was the first one all year, we just didn't play a very good game, all around," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Sanchez was good, but we couldn't come up with a big hit when we needed it, and we just didn't play very well. It's uncharacteristic, but you just turn the page and move on."

Hunter, the former Angel who went into the game leading the league with 26 hits, was 2 for 4 in his return to Anaheim, including a double with two outs in the ninth. He scored the Tigers' run when Cabrera followed with an RBI single.

The Tigers threatened early against Hanson but couldn't get a clutch hit. They had two hits in the first, second and fourth but came away empty each time, thwarted in the first and fourth by double plays.

The Angels put together three hits in the first, but the rally was snuffed out when Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson threw out Bourjos trying to go from first to third on a single by Pujols.

The Angels pushed pushed across the first run in the third against Sanchez on a sacrifice fly by Mike Trout, set up by singles from Luis Jimenez and Bourjos.

The Angels made it 2-0 in the fourth, getting a couple of two-out hits. Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick both struck out, but Chris Iannetta beat out an infield single and took second on a wild pitch. Brendan Harris, filling in at shortstop for injured Erick Aybar, followed with a double into the gap in left-center field to drive Iannetta.

NOTES: Hunter returned to Angel Stadium on Friday for the first time since the Angels let him go as a free agent after the 2012 season. Hunter wanted to return to the Angels, who instead signed right fielder Josh Hamilton to a lucrative contract. But Hunter said he had no resentment toward the Angels. "I had a blast here ... resent what?" Hunter said. "It's good to be home, my home for five years. I built relationships here and it's something that can't be taken away." Hunter began the day hitting .413 with a league-leading 26 hits. Hamilton was batting .200 with a team-high 18 strikeouts. ... The Angels placed third baseman Alberto Callaspo on the 15-day disabled list Friday, retroactive to April 12, with a strained right calf. Third baseman Luis Jimenez started Friday in Callaspo's place for the sixth time and has played well, batting .438 (7 for 16) while playing solid defense. ... Angels right-hander Ryan Madson threw a 20-pitch simulated game Friday, facing live hitters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last year. Scioscia said Madson was "not quite as crisp" as he has been recently but is still making progress. The Angels are hoping Madson can return to the active roster in early to mid-May. ... Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander and right-hander Max Scherzer each posted 12 strikeouts in their starts against the Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday, becoming the first pair of Tiger pitchers to strike out at least 12 in back-to-back games since July 1956 when Paul Foytack (15 strikeouts) and Billy Hoeft (12) did it.
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