Reporting from Detroit — The Angels' Jered Weaver had control of his fastball, changeup and slider Sunday. What he couldn't control was his temper.
And as a result the pitching matchup of the season nearly dissolved into a bench-clearing brawl, overshadowing a brilliant performance by Detroit's Justin Verlander, who came within four outs of a no-hitter in the Tigers' 3-2 victory.
The problems started in the third inning with either a lack of respect or a lack of understanding, depending on which side you were on.
Three batters after Don Kelly led off with a walk, Magglio Ordonez hit a first-pitch slider deep into the left-field bleachers near the foul pole for a two-run home run.
Ordonez paused in the batter's box, watching the ball go out, then strolled around the bases, actions Weaver interpreted as efforts to show him up.
"There's a level of respect in this game," Weaver said. "I've never shown anybody up or ever done anything like that. When you're standing up at the plate and do what he did, I don't agree with that."
"I don't hit many home runs, so I tried to make sure it was a home run. I didn't try to show him up," he said. "I was just making sure it was a fair ball and I started running. That's how fast I run."
For the next four innings Weaver got his revenge by sending the Tigers marching back to the dugout, retiring the next 12 batters. That streak ended with two outs in the seventh when Carlos Guillen hit a full-count home run to right field.
And there could be no misunderstanding over what Guillen did next, flipping his bat, posing at the plate, then skipping a few steps sideways before starting toward first base.
"That's the first time I've done that," Guillen said. "But the way he reacted to Magglio … we're a team. I apologize to his teammates. That's not the way I play. But it's part of the game."
Weaver came unglued.
Before Guillen was halfway through his slow-motion trip around the bases, plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt went to the mound to try to calm the Angels pitcher. He then issued warnings to both benches, a warning Weaver ignored by throwing his next pitch near the head of Alex Avila, earning an ejection for himself and Manager Mike Scioscia. Several Angels spilled onto the field.
"I had respect for both those players until they stand up at the plate. And I thought they respected me back," said Weaver (14-5), who lost for the first time since May 18. "But after what Guillen did, I thought that just kind of crossed the line. I'm not just going to go out there and take that.
"There's a line that needs to be drawn. If they want to play the game that way, that's the way it's going to be."
But it didn't stop there. When the Angels batted in the eighth inning, Erick Aybar bunted the first pitch — a provocative move with a no-hitter in progress — and reached safely when Verlander threw wildly to first base, drawing an error.
Aybar scored two batters later during a botched rundown, delivering an elbow shiver to Verlander as he crossed the plate.
"All that is stupid," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. "Everybody was stupid. That was unprofessional on both sides."
Lost in the fracas was the fact that Verlander came within four outs of joining Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers since 1900 to throw three no-hitters.
Maicer Izturis ended that bid with two outs in the eighth inning, looping a soft liner into shallow left field to drive in Peter Bourjos from second base with the Angels' final run. Verlander (15-5) then put an exclamation point on his performance, striking out Hunter on a 101-mph fastball before turning the game over to closer Jose Valverde.