DETROIT — Ervin Santana kept his demons hidden through five innings. Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder then showed up waving a bat and all you-know-what broke loose again.
For the 10th time this season, Santana surrendered multiple home runs, this time consecutive blasts by Fielder and Delmon Young in the sixth inning, and the Tigers beat the Angels, 5-2, at Comerica Park.
"Just two mistakes," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said of Santana's seven-inning outing. "He tried to go down and away and it was down and in, not a good location for Fielder. And then he tried to go off-speed to Young, and it got left up and away."
Right-hander Max Scherzer (14-6) kept the Angels hitless from the third through seventh innings, and struck out nine batters to overtake teammate Justin Verlander for the American League strikeouts lead.
Santana (7-11) kept pace by retiring eight of nine Tigers before walking Andy Dirks to open the sixth inning.
On an 0-and-1 pitch, Fielder hit the ball about 20 rows deep into the right-field stands, his 23rd home run.
Santana's next pitch was driven by Young over the fence in left-center field, a blow that spoiled the Angels' hopes of winning the series against one of four teams they trail for a wild-card spot.
Santana has surrendered 31 home runs and has not given up a home run in only seven of 25 games.
The right-hander was bypassed in the starting rotation twice in July so he could sort through command issues. He said his first loss in six starts was "a good outing" spoiled by "a couple bad pitches."
"Ervin challenges guys," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's better when he's going right after hitters."
The home run numbers "might be high because of his command with pitches early in the season," Scioscia said. "It's tough to reinvent yourself in the middle of the season. It was more important for him to find his command. In the last six starts, he's finding himself and those numbers will level off a bit."
It also hurt that the Angels scored only seven runs in the three-game series in Detroit, with Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo combining for two hits in 24 at-bats with 12 strikeouts and Albert Pujols sidelined because of an injured calf.
"Most everyone got held in check," Scioscia said.
Trout avoided the possibility of his first hitless three-game stretch, ending an 0-for-9 trip to Comerica with a leadoff infield single in the first inning. Trout scored his 100th run on a double play.
Left fielder Vernon Wells preserved the early lead for Santana by leaping to rob Omar Infante of a home run in the first inning.
Santana pushed Infante off the plate with a 92-mph fastball on a 1-and-2 pitch in the third inning but wound up throwing two more balls to walk Infante. That brought up Dirks, who lined a triple to the wall in right-center field, tying the score, 1-1.
Throwing a fastball clocked as fast as 99 mph, Scherzer retired 13 consecutive Angels during one stretch and racked up his strikeouts through six innings. He struck out nine in beating the Angels on July 19 too.
Iannetta struck out three times Sunday and said he had a "tough time seeing the ball" because of Scherzer's deceptive delivery.
"That's a reason he leads the league in strikeouts," Iannetta said.