ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Zack Greinke pitched seven strong innings of five-hit ball, Mike Trout hit a leadoff homer for the second straight day and the Los Angeles Angels completed their second straight series sweep with a 3-2 victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Greinke (5-2) struck out seven in his fourth straight victory, and Alberto Callaspo hit a two-run homer for the Angels, who have won six straight, 11 of 12 and 15 of 18 as they attempt to claw back into the AL wild-card race.
Ernesto Frieri needed four outs and 38 pitches to earn his 18th save, finally getting Jhonny Peralta on a grounder with two runners on in the ninth after Callaspo made an error to prolong the inning.
Anibal Sanchez (2-5) pitched seven solid innings for Detroit, yielding seven hits without walking a batter, but his teammates couldn’t overcome the Angels’ early homers.
With its season-best sixth straight win at Angel Stadium, Los Angeles (77-63) stayed even with Tampa Bay and pulled within one game of Baltimore (78-62). The Orioles and the Oakland Athletics, who open a four-game series in Anaheim on Monday, barely lead the wild-card race, while Detroit (73-66) remained 4 1/2 games back with its fifth loss in six games.
Andy Dirks homered and Brennan Boesch had an RBI double for the Tigers, who remain just two games behind Chicago atop the AL Central. Detroit visits the White Sox for a key four-game series starting Monday.
Frieri had to work for his save, even after he struck out Dirks with a Detroit runner on second to end the eighth inning.
Miguel Cabrera drew a 10-pitch leadoff walk in the ninth, but Frieri struck out Prince Fielder and Delmon Young. Boesch grounded to third, but Callaspo mishandled the ball out of his glove.
Frieri then coaxed another grounder to third out of Peralta, and Callaspo had no problem with it.
Greinke has found a groove with the Angels in his last six starts, going 5-1 and allowing just 16 runs. The former Cy Young winner pitched at least seven innings for the seventh time in nine starts with Los Angeles, providing much-needed durability during ace Jered Weaver’s injury absence.
Sanchez struck out six Angels in his eighth start for the Tigers since arriving in a trade with Miami. He is 1-4 in his last six outings despite giving up just five runs over 26 2-3 innings in the last four.
Trout added another chapter to his jaw-dropping rookie season when he drove Sanchez’s second pitch over the wall in deep center. The homer was the 27th for the 21-year-old phenom, setting the team record for a leadoff hitter, and his fourth game-opening homer after doing the same thing Saturday against Justin Verlander.
Callaspo connected in the second inning, following up his pinch-hit heroics in Friday’s series opener with a two-run shot to right. Sanchez settled down after that, and Dirks answered with his sixth homer of the season in the fourth.
Greinke retired 10 of 11 after Dirks’ homer, but Young scored in the seventh with a two-out single, a throwing error on Erick Aybar, a wild pitch and Boesch’s double. Greinke struck out Peralta to end the threat.
Peter Bourjos made a big catch in the eighth inning, sprinting into the gap to catch Austin Jackson’s drive with a Detroit runner on second.
NOTES: Umpire Angel Campos took over at second base, replacing Jeff Kellogg, who left Saturday’s game after getting a foul tip off his mask. … Slumping All-Star OF Mark Trumbo was back in the Angels’ lineup after getting benched Saturday, ending a 0-for-16 skid with a fourth-inning single. He crushed Sanchez’s pitch in his first at-bat, but Jackson leaped high at the center field wall to pull back a homer. Trumbo went 1 for 3 before Bourjos came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth. … Sanchez made his first career start at Angel Stadium.
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