ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Howie Kendrick drove in three runs, Hideki Matsui added a two-run double and the Los Angeles Angels overcame another poor performance by their bullpen to hold off the Detroit Tigers 6-5 on Tuesday night.
Scott Kazmir (1-1) helped the three-time defending AL West champs win their fifth straight game and climb over the .500 mark for the first time since their opening-night victory over Minnesota. He was charged with two runs and six hits over 5 2-3 innings and struck out seven without issuing a walk.
Jason Bulger replaced Kazmir with two on in the sixth and a 6-0 lead, but Brandon Inge greeted him with a two-run double. Scot Shields started the seventh, throwing 26 pitches and walking three of his five batters.
Matt Palmer came on to face Miguel Cabrera, who hit a three-run double off the wall in right-center to slice the margin to 6-5.
Before that hit, the Tigers were 7 for 49 with runners in scoring position during this road trip.
Kevin Jepsen pitched a scoreless eighth, retiring Johnny Damon on a borderline called third strike at the knees with the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
Former Tigers closer Fernando Rodney followed with a scoreless ninth for his fifth save in five chances while Brian Fuentes has been on the disabled list.
Angels relievers have been charged with 28 runs in 27 1-3 innings, after opening the season with 11 scoreless innings.
Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said before the game that Fuentes will be activated on Wednesday. But catcher Jeff Mathis was placed on the DL because of a broken right wrist — one day after he attempted to block a pitch in the dirt from Jepsen with his throwing hand in the eighth inning of a 2-0 win.
Mathis is expected to be out six to eight weeks.
Tigers starter Rick Porcello (1-1) gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, striking out five. The 21-year-old right-hander also issued two walks, threw two wild pitches and hit a batter with a pitch.
Matsui made it 6-0 in the fifth with his two-run double. During the rally, Bobby Abreu stole second base to become the sixth player in big league history with at least 350 steals and 250 home runs. The others who accomplished the feat were Joe Morgan, Rickey Henderson, Bobby Bonds, Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio.
Kazmir worked with men on base in each of the first three innings, helping raise his overall pitch count to 99. The two-time All-Star gave up a one-out triple to Ryan Rayburn in the second, but Maicer Izturis made a slick backhanded stop of Gerald Laird's one-hop smash down the third base line to keep Rayburn anchored at the bag, and Kazmir retired Adam Everett on a flyball.
Tigers center fielder and leadoff hitter Austin Jackson, who leads all rookies with 19 hits, struck out his first three times up and has fanned 20 times in 58 at-bats overall. He also committed his first error, misplaying Mike Napoli's sixth-inning single to put runners at second and third.
NOTES: Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who managed the Colorado Rockies in 1999, was stunned by the death of 48-year-old Rockies president Keli McGregor on Tuesday. "My brother called me this morning and I couldn't believe it," Leyland said. "He's got four kids. That's just a crying shame." ... The crowd observed a moment of silence in McGregor's memory. ... After the game, the Angels optioned RHP Francisco Rodriguez to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room on the 25-man roster for Fuentes.