Jhonny Peralta put the Tigers ahead with a two-out, two-run double in the… (Dave Reginek / Getty Images )
DETROIT — The Angels turned to their bullpen to protect a narrow lead Saturday night and the familiar sting of the second half returned.
Angels reliever Garrett Richards surrendered two eighth-inning singles before a two-out, two-run double by Jhonny Peralta as the Tigers snapped the Angels’ four-game winning streak, 5-3, at Comerica Park.
The loss dropped the Angels (66-61) 3 1/2 games behind American League wild-card leaders Tampa Bay and Oakland, while Detroit (68-58) moved back to 2 1/2 games ahead of the Angels.
The Angels’ bullpen now has a 6.07 earned-run average in 41 games since the All-Star break (89 earned runs in 132 innings).
Before giving up the lead, the Angels capitalized on both Detroit’s defense and its change in starting pitching that was forced when Doug Fister was scratched from his Saturday start earlier in the week because of right groin tightness.
Fister struck out 10 Angels and limited them to two hits in eight innings July 18.
Rookie left-hander Drew Smyly, who was recalled from triple-A, made the start for Detroit.
In the third inning, Vernon Wells struck a Smyly pitch over the left-field wall -- Wells' third homer in 10 games and 10th of the season.
Angels catcher and No. 9 hitter Bobby Wilson reached on a throwing error by Tigers second baseman Omar Infante, and two outs later Howie Kendrick knocked in Wilson with a single to right for a 2-0 lead.
Kendrick, elevated to the No. 3 spot in the batting order because of Albert Pujols’ continued absence (right calf stiffness), extended his hitting streak to 12 games.
Following a slow start this season, Kendrick has hits in 22 of his last 24 games, batting .344 during that stretch before Saturday’s game.
“This game is all about confidence and consistency,” Kendrick said. “I’m putting good at-bats together, you build off every at-bat and work hard. It’s about what you do before every game, preparing.”
The Angels extended the lead to 3-0 with another unearned run in the fourth inning. Center fielder Austin Jackson chased down a deep fly hit by Kendrys Morales, but the ball glanced off of Jackson’s glove.
Erick Aybar followed with a run-scoring double.
Angels starter Dan Haren, making his first start since Aug. 16 after giving up a combined 10 earned runs in two previous outings, struck out six and stranded three Tigers in scoring position through five scoreless innings.
Detroit cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth inning when Omar Infante doubled and scored on Delmon Young’s two-out double. Andy Dirks then dropped a run-scoring looper just over an outstretched Aybar at shortstop into shallow left.
Asked his hopes for Haren before the game, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said, “That he gives us a chance to win.”
Scioscia replaced Haren with reliever Jordan Walden after Dirks’ hit, and Walden got an inning-ending groundout.
Walden was pulled after a single in the seventh, and Richards retired the next two Tigers before giving up a one-out single to Prince Fielder to ignite the eighth-inning rally.
Russell Wilson the latest young gun in the NFL
Jake Locker shows why he's Titans' starting QB
Lance Armstrong says he'll be 'great' following ban