ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Justin Verlander labored through five innings for his first win in four starts since signing a long-term contract, and the Detroit Tigers' bullpen came through again in a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Carlos Guillen drove in two runs to help the Tigers salvage a split of the four-game series. But the three-time All-Star left in the fifth with a strained left hamstring after he tried to score from second on Scott Sizemore's single.
Guillen pulled up between third and home and was gently tagged out by catcher Mike Napoli to end the inning.
Verlander (1-1) allowed four runs, six hits and four walks while striking out four. The two-time All-Star agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal in February after winning a career-high 19 games and leading the AL in strikeouts last season. But he hasn't pitched particularly well at Angel Stadium — giving up 15 earned runs in 16 2-3 innings over three starts.
Juan Rivera pinch-hit in the Angels' eighth with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base and got plunked by Ryan Perry's pitch to load the bases after both runners had advanced on Gerald Laird's passed ball. But Perry got Erick Aybar on a called third strike to end the threat.
Jose Valverde, the fifth Detroit pitcher, closed it out with a hitless ninth for his fifth save in six chances. Bobby Abreu drew a leadoff walk, but Torii Hunter then grounded into a double play.
Angels regular designated hitter Hideki Matsui made his second start in left field in place of Rivera, who was 0 for 10 against Verlander. Last year's World Series MVP homered and singled in five at-bats, and has a chance to get his 1,000th major league hit against his former Yankees teammates while they are in Anaheim for a three-game series this weekend. Matsui is four away.
Abreu doubled in the Angels' first and singled his next time up to reach the 3,500 mark in career total bases. He doubled again in the seventh but was stranded at third on Matsui's groundout with the Angels down by a run.
The Tigers scored in each of the first three innings against Joe Saunders (1-3) and built a 5-2 lead against the left-hander, who departed with two outs in the third after retiring eight of his 16 batters and allowing six hits. The first two runs came on an RBI double by Magglio Ordonez and a run-scoring single by Guillen.
The Angels responded in the bottom of the first with a two-run single by Kendry Morales, but Detroit regained the lead on Adam Everett's sacrifice fly — the first run the Tigers scored in the second inning during their first 16 games.
Miguel Cabrera singled home another run in the third, and Guillen followed with an RBI groundout that delivered Ordonez with the fifth run — the 1,000th he's scored in the big leagues.
NOTES: On the night Hunter was presented with his ninth consecutive Gold Glove, he was in the lineup as the DH for the first time this season. The AL record for most Gold Gloves in a row by an outfielder is 10, by Ken Griffey Jr. and Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline. ... Verlander needed 36 pitches to get out of the first, striking out Brandon Wood after the Angels loaded the bases for the second time in the inning. ... The Tigers had a chance to break it open in the ninth, but RHP Jason Bulger threw called third strikes past Brandon Inge and Laird with the bases loaded.