ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — After watching his teammates take the lead with three runs during a 30-pitch fifth inning by Max Scherzer, Garrett Richards gave up three runs in the sixth. As a result, the right-hander’s streak of seven straight wins is over.
Nick Castellanos drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a double after Torii Hunter’s RBI double, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Angels 6-4 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series between two of the top three teams in the majors.
“I didn’t have my best stuff tonight,” Richards said. “I feel like I let the guys in here down. They worked hard to put up three in the fifth, and I went out in the sixth and gave it right back to them. That’s a little frustrating, but it’s been a good couple two months and we’re still playing good baseball. That’s not a bad team over there, either.”
The Tigers (57-42) lead the AL Central by seven games over the Kansas City Royals, who beat Cleveland 2-1 in 14 innings to drop the Indians into third place. The Angels (60-41) slipped three games behind Oakland in the West following the Athletics’ 13-1 win over Houston.
Richards (11-3) allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings with five strikeouts and two walks. The right-hander was 7-0 with a 1.25 ERA over his previous nine starts following a 9-5 loss at Oakland on May 30.
“When you know they got their best guy going on the other side, you’re trying to match them pitch-for-pitch, inning-for-inning, run-for-run, whatever,” Richards said. “I was just trying to hang with him and give us a chance to win. But I was just up in the zone, and the ball wasn’t really cutting or sinking like it usually does. My slider was just kind of rolling in there instead of breaking. I’m not too discouraged about and it’s nothing I’m going to hang my head over.”
Richards gave up hits to his first four batters in the sixth, including Hunter’s RBI double to left-center and Castellanos’ two-run double to the same spot.
“I cannot say he was hittable. It was not fun,” Hunter said. “I mean, he made some mistakes with his curveball, and we live off mistakes. We don’t live off pitchers’ pitches. Garrett is filthy, and it’s not fun facing him at all. So hopefully, I hope I don’t face him every again.”
Ian Kinsler increased Detroit’s margin to 5-3 in the sixth with an RBI double against Jason Grilli, and Austin Jackson added an RBI single in the eighth off Fernando Salas.
Scherzer (12-3) tied teammate Rick Porcello and New York’s Masahiro Tanaka for the league lead in wins. He allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings and struck out 11. It was the fourth time this season and 22nd in his career that the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner had double digits in strikeouts.
C.J. Cron beat out a broken-bat single in the hole to shortstop Eugenio Suarez to drive in Howie Kendrick, and Kole Calhoun hit a broken-bat single to right field to score David Freese and Cron.
“It was a real challenge facing them in the fifth,” Scherzer said. “They put together some really good at-bats against me. They grinded it out, kept fouling pitches off and they were able to capitalize on a couple of mistakes. They kept finding ways to put the ball in play and keep that inning going.”
The Tigers scratched out a run in the third on a groundout by Kinsler after Suarez drew a leadoff walk, Rajai Davis singled and both runners advanced on a wild pitch that bounced off Hank Conger’s chest protector.
“Garrett’s command was a little bit off early, although his velocity was good and his movement was terrific,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “His slider was there, but he just got some pitches in some zones where those guys caught up to it.”
Joba Chamberlain gave up a run on Josh Hamilton’s sacrifice fly in the eighth. But right-hander – and still closer – Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth on 12 pitches for his 21st save in 26 chances a day after the Tigers acquired closer Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers.
NOTES: Among the crowd of 40,146 was reality TV’s Vicki Gunvalson, one of the original “Real Housewives of Orange County.” … Scherzer and Richards are among five pitchers who have made at least 20 starts this season and not allowed an unearned run. The others are Toronto’s Drew Hutchison, Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey and Miami’s Tom Koehler. … Scherzer is 10 strikeouts from becoming the 16th pitcher to get at least 1,000 in a Tigers uniform.