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Zack Greinke gets first road win for Angels, beating Detroit, 2-1

Howie Kendrick breaks a scoreless tie with a two-run double in the sixth inning, and Garrett Richards gets first career save as Angels win their fourth in a row.

August 24, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Angels starter Zack Greinke went 7 2/3 innings at Detroit on Friday night.
Angels starter Zack Greinke went 7 2/3 innings at Detroit on Friday night. (Dave Reginek / Getty Images )

DETROIT — Zack Greinke found his command and Garrett Richards discovered how "amped" closing a major league game can make him feel.

Together, the right-handers pitched the Angels to a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers that gave them a four-game winning streak, their first since June 24-28.

Greinke, in a sorely needed 115-pitch performance, scattered five hits with five strikeouts and two walks in his sixth start since being traded to the Angels. He was hurt only by Miguel Cabrera, Detroit's most-valuable-player candidate, who hit a solo home run with two out in the eighth inning.

Howie Kendrick provided Greinke the needed run support with a two-out, two-run double in the sixth inning.

"My location was a lot better than it's been . . . and hopefully it'll continue," said Greinke, who is 2-2 with a 5.22 earned-run average since being acquired from Milwaukee, falling short of providing the ace material the Angels sought in the July 27 deal.

Ten of Greinke's outs were fly balls to Comerica Park's spacious outfield, and he confessed, "A light breeze in and a big park might've helped."

Still, he said attention to "staying within myself, not trying to be too nasty" can help him in the Angels' push for an American League wild-card spot. They are 81/2 games behind AL West-leading Texas.

Richards' right arm may be a factor too.

With the bullpen depleted by Thursday's 14-13 marathon win in Boston, former starter Richards, 24, was unexpectedly asked to convert his first major league save, and he struck out Detroit's Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta swinging.

"It was a lot of fun; I'm still kind of amped," Richards said in the clubhouse, two days after being promoted for a third time this season from triple A. "In Salt Lake, I ironed out some stuff about not being too fine early on and just filling up the zone."

Richards said it was his first turn at closing since he was a college freshman at Oklahoma.

"Whatever they ask me to do," he said.

Angels closer Ernesto Frieri threw 43 pitches Thursday night, and Manager Mike Scioscia said he believed Richards' fastball was the best late match against right-handed hitters Young and Peralta.

"We hope it'll play big in the bullpen," Scioscia said.

To start the Angels' sixth, Maicer Izturis singled and Torii Hunter walked. After a strikeout, it appeared Mark Trumbo's grounder to third would result in an inning-ending double play, but Hunter slid hard into Detroit second baseman Omar Infante, whose wide throw pulled first baseman Prince Fielder off the bag, allowing Kendrick to bat.

"Key play of the game," Scioscia said of Hunter's slide.

Izturis had three singles. Catcher Chris Iannetta had two hits and is nine for 17 in the last three games.

Greinke's freshness also was appreciated. The late game in Boston upset the Angels' travel plans. They didn't reach their hotel in Detroit until about 4:30 a.m.

Greinke retired 15 consecutive Tigers before Cabrera's two-out double in the sixth.

That set up a Greinke showdown with his former Milwaukee teammate Fielder, Detroit's cleanup hitter, who is batting .305 with 22 homers. The count reached 3-2. Greinke was visited at the mound by Iannetta.

Greinke's low, outside-corner pitch was called strike three by plate umpire Jerry Meals, with Fielder appearing to shout "Terrible!" and remaining at home plate for a few moments to vent.

In the seventh, Greinke confronted a two-on, two-out situation following a leadoff single and two-out walk. Pinch-hitter Andy Dirks worked the count full before Greinke fired a 93-mph fastball that Dirks missed, swinging.

"When he's on the mound," Fielder told reporters afterward, "he's dangerous."

Short hops

Albert Pujols did not play but said before the game that he was "ready to go" and hoped to be in the lineup Saturday. He was removed from a game at Boston on Wednesday after experiencing stiffness in his right calf. Pujols has homered in four of his last eight games and has a .747 slugging percentage in his last 21 games. . . . Recently demoted reliever Hisanori Takahashi was claimed off waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Takahashi was 0-3 with a 4.93 ERA in 42 appearances with the Angels.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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