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Angels sweep Tigers, close in on wild card

Zack Greinke works seven innings to win his fourth consecutive start in the 3-2 victory.

September 09, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Zack Greinke won his fourth consecutive start, allowing two runs and striking out seven over seven innings.
Zack Greinke won his fourth consecutive start, allowing two runs and striking… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

Zack Greinke continued settling into his life as an Angel on Sunday as his team cozied up some more to a wild-card playoff spot.

The right-hander acquired in late July for the playoff chase won his fourth consecutive start and fifth in six games, producing a seven-inning effort in a 3-2 victory to cap a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the Angels' 15th win in 18 games.

Angels relievers Kevin Jepsen and Ernesto Frieri each walked the leadoff men in the eighth and ninth innings, but Frieri escaped the jams by throwing 38 pitches and surviving a two-out error by Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo in the ninth.

With a teammate at second base, Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta grounded into a fielder’s choice out to Callaspo to end the game.

The Angels (77-63) sliced a half-game off their pursuit of an American League wild-card spot. They trail Baltimore by 1 1/2 games with 22 games remaining.

For the second consecutive game, Angels center fielder Mike Trout opened the first inning with a home run – a powerful blast just right of dead center off Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez.

Trout’s leadoff homer was his 27th from the spot, breaking the team record accomplished by Tony Phillips in 1995 and Brian Downing in 1982.

The Angels extended the lead to 3-0 in the second when Erick Aybar singled to right and Callaspo slugged his ninth homer of the season, over the right-field wall.

Sanchez (2-5), acquired like Greinke for the pennant race from the Miami Marlins on July 23, had given up just two earned runs in his previous 19 2/3 innings over three starts.

Greinke (5-2) won the battle by exhibiting precise control of an arsenal that included a wicked curve that made Detroit’s No. 5 hitter Delmon Young look foolish when he tried chasing it and struck out to close the fourth inning.

Greinke struck out seven.

His biggest miscue was a 3-2 pitch to Detroit’s Andy Dirks that the left-handed batter smacked over the wall in right field in the fourth inning.

The Tigers edged within 3-2 in the seventh when shortstop Aybar bounced a throw to the Tigers’ dugout on Young’s infield single toward the third-base side, and Brennan Boesch followed with a run-scoring double to left.

In the eighth, Jepsen committed the Cardinal sin of a leadoff walk. A sacrifice bunt followed. But defensive-replacement center fielder Peter Bourjos tracked down and caught Austin Jackson’s flare to shallow center.

Closer Frieri was then summoned and struck out Dirks.

Detroit pressured Greinke in the sixth when speedy leadoff man Jackson singled and Dirks drew a 3-0 count that caused Greinke to snap his glove at the plate umpire after the ball-three call.

On the next pitch, Jackson tried to steal his 12th base, but catcher Chris Iannetta fired a throw that allowed Aybar to tag Jackson out by the slightest of measures.

A pitch later, Greinke unloaded a 75-mph pitch that caused Dirks to strike out swinging.

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