Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins walks to the dugout after giving up a two-run… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
DETROIT — Those pointing at the relievers as the primary culprits in the Angels' sluggish second-half start might soon run out of fingers.
There was more blame to spread around in the team's 8-6 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday night in Comerica Park, as relievers Hisanori Takahashi, LaTroy Hawkins and David Carpenter combined to give up four runs and three hits, including a home run, and four walks.
In four games since the All-Star break, three against a New York Yankees club with the best record in the majors, a bullpen that was so effective and efficient for most of May and June has given up 11 earned runs, nine hits and 11 walks in seven innings.
The only reliever who has emerged unscathed is Jason Isringhausen, the 39-year-old right-hander who has survived three major elbow surgeries.
Nearly untouchable co-closers Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri suffered meltdowns in New York, and Kevin Jepsen gave up a game-winning hit Friday night before rebounding to save Sunday's win over the Yankees.
"Some guys are missing spots, some are wild, and when you're facing deep lineups, there's a premium on making pitches," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "These guys are not machines. They're going to give up runs. You can't have everyone sharp and available every night when you're using them so much."
Wasted was a superb effort by right fielder Torii Hunter, who had four hits, including a run-scoring double in the third inning and a two-run double to highlight a four-run fifth.
Hunter, who was slowed over the weekend by a tight groin, also made two superb plays, leaping at the wall for Quintin Berry's third-inning drive and throwing to first base for a double play and racing far into the gap to catch Jhonny Peralta's drive in the fourth.
"It felt great," Hunter said, "but it doesn't matter because we didn't win."
Ervin Santana was not great during a six-inning effort in which he gave up four runs — two earned — and eight hits, the first quality start by an Angels pitcher other than Jered Weaver or C.J. Wilson since June 24. It would be a reach to say he was good.
But the struggling right-hander pitched far better than he did in his previous two starts, when he was tagged for 13 runs and 13 hits in 61/3 innings.
Santana worked ahead in counts, throwing first-pitch strikes to 20 of 28 batters. His breaking ball had more depth, more bite. His only wild pitch was to second base, when his errant throw after fielding Brennan Boesch's grounder allowed Prince Fielder to score.
"Overall," Scioscia said, "I thought it was a step forward."
But Santana failed to deliver a shutdown inning after the Angels scored four runs in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead, a rally that featured Maicer Izturis' double, Mike Trout's single, Hunter's two-run double to deep center field and Albert Pujols' run-scoring double to left-center field.
Santana got two quick outs in the fifth, but Berry bunted for a single, Miguel Cabrera walked, and Fielder and Delmon Young hit run-scoring singles to make it 5-4.
"That shows the importance of closing innings out," Scioscia said. "Ervin had a little trouble in the fifth."
The bullpen had a lot of trouble in the seventh. Takahashi gave up a leadoff single to Berry, who stole second and, after Hawkins got Cabrera to ground out, stole third.
Fielder was intentionally walked, Young hit a score-tying sacrifice fly to center field and Boesch crushed a two-run home run to right field to make 7-5.
Mark Trumbo's 25th home run, a towering shot to left field in the eighth, made it 7-6, but Carpenter walked three in the bottom of the eighth, and Berry's run-scoring single gave Detroit an 8-6 lead.
"When you get down to it, we played a poor game," Scioscia said. "We opened the door for them and didn't hold leads."