ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shane Greene was giving up home runs at such a rapid rate, manager Brad Ausmus couldn’t get someone up in the bullpen fast enough.
By the time he brought in Alex Wilson with two outs in the second inning, the damage already had been done, as five of the Los Angeles Angels’ first 12 batters had cleared the fence. Wilson retired all 11 batters he faced, but the six-run deficit was too much for the Tigers to overcome in an 8-6 loss Saturday night.
“When the phone rings in the first or second inning, everybody is immediately on edge,” Wilson said. “I had an idea it was going to be me, obviously, so I took the ball and tried to get some quick outs and let our offense work. I was able to shorten the game and save the rest of the ‘pen as much as I could.”
Greene (4-4) surrendered solo homers to Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun in the second inning, and two more to Matt Joyce and rookie Carlos Perez to open the second. The 26-year-old right-hander threw his 46th and final pitch to Albert Pujols, who hit a three-run homer. It was his 11th this season and 531st of his career.
It was the first time a Tigers opponent hit five homers in a game since May 26, 2014, when the Athletics won 10-0 at Oakland. The last time the Detroit staff surrendered more than five was Sept. 4 at Boston, when the Red Sox tied a franchise record with eight in a 20-4 rout.
“It was just one of those nights. The ball was traveling well,” Wilson said. “They’ve got some big guys who can hit some homers, and tonight they ran into a few.”
Prior to Saturday, Greene had allowed just three home runs in his first 59 innings this season combined.
“When things go bad for him, the fastball’s up and doesn’t sink as much,” Ausmus said. “I mean, you don’t usually see home runs like that as a result. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many home runs happen that quickly.”
After Pujols’ homer, the Angels didn’t get another baserunner until Johnny Giavotella singled with two outs in the seventh against Blaine Hardy. The Tigers, meanwhile, cut the margin to 7-3 with Miguel Cabrera’s RBI double in the third and Nick Castellanos’ sacrifice fly in the fourth.
“The bullpen did an excellent job of holding them there and gave us a chance to fight our way back,” Ausmus said. “I can’t complain about anything the bullpen did. They gave up one run in seven innings. They did more than their fair share. I really thought we were going to tie it up, the way we were chipping away.”
Detroit closed to 7-5 in the eighth against Fernando Salas with a run-scoring groundout by Tyler Collins and an RBI double by James McCann. But Perez got one of the runs back in the eighth with an RBI double and Huston Street got his 16th save in 18 attempts despite giving up a two-out homer to Ian Kinsler in the ninth.
Jered Weaver (4-4) won his fourth straight decision over five starts, allowing three runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings with three strikeouts and no walks. The Angels had totaled just six home runs in the right-hander’s 10 previous starts this season.
“The boys came out swinging. I was able to get some runs, and it was nice to pitch with a lead like that because you can be a little bit more aggressive in the zone,” Weaver said. “I tried to go out there and pitch to contact as much as possible and they were able to get some hits together, but I was able to maneuver myself out of some situations and tried to limit the damage.”
A victory in Sunday night’s series finale would give the Angels their first four-game series sweep of the Tigers since April 1996 at the “Big A.”
Tigers: C Alex Avila, experiencing left knee problems, is scheduled to resume baseball activities when the team gets home for a three-game series against Oakland before going out on a minor league rehab assignment.
Angels: Pujols, who has homered in three consecutive games for the second time in his career, was limited to designated hitter duty because of a sore groin. … SS Erick Aybar missed his second straight game because of a hamstring problem, and Navarro was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to play first base. RHP Vinnie Pestano was optioned to the Bees to make room for Navarro on the active roster.
Tigers: LHP David Price (4-1) scattered five hits over seven innings in a 1-0 win at Oakland on Tuesday. Detroit has won 11 of his last 12 starts, including the final two of last season.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (3-4) is 1-4 with a 5.77 ERA in his last seven starts after beating Seattle and Texas on the road in his first two outings. The Michigan native’s only other start against the Tigers was on July 26. 2014, when he pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and did not walk a batter in a 4-0 win.