ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Efren Navarro and Kole Calhoun drove in runs in the sixth inning, and the Los Angeles Angels overcame Drew Smyly’s early dominance for a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Tyler Skaggs yielded five hits in 5 2-3 resourceful innings for the Angels, who have won 14 of 19. Los Angeles improved the majors’ second-best record to 61-41 and pulled within two games of the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics, who lost at Texas.
Miguel Cabrera homered and Smyly (6-9) had a career-high 11 strikeouts while pitching into the sixth for the Tigers, who have lost seven of eight in Anaheim.
Navarro had two hits after replacing Josh Hamilton in the fourth inning as the Angels earned their majors-leading 36th home victory by beating the majors’ best road team.
Los Angeles’ bullpen backed up Skaggs with 3 1-3 innings of one-hit relief, retiring nine straight along the way.
Mike Morin (3-3) struck out Torii Hunter with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning.
Huston Street pitched the ninth for his second save in three appearances for the Angels.
After Detroit’s pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts in Thursday’s series opener, Smyly struck out eight of the Angels’ first 10 hitters. The left-hander overwhelmed Los Angeles until the sixth, retiring his first 13 batters and striking out nine different Angels.
Everything changed abruptly with consecutive, one-out doubles by Chris Iannetta and Calhoun, followed by Navarro’s go-ahead RBI to chase Smyly.
Skaggs struggled much more than Smyly, needing 43 pitches to get through the first two innings alone, but still struck out five.
Cabrera connected for his 16th homer leading off the fourth inning, putting his second shot in three days into the stands in right field. Los Angeles didn’t get a ball out of the infield until Mike Trout’s one-out fly ball to right in the fourth.
The Tigers chased Skaggs with consecutive, two-out singles in the sixth. Detroit then loaded the bases when David Freese botched Martinez’s soft grounder to third, but Morin fanned Hunter to end it.
Hamilton left the game with soreness in his left knee and was replaced by Navarro in left field. The former AL MVP grounded out weakly in his only at-bat, and he failed to make a play on J.D. Martinez’s long fly to left in the second, allowing it to bounce for a double.
NOTES: Angels LHP C.J. Wilson threw a bullpen session in his recovery from his sprained right ankle. … Kevin Jepsen struck out the Detroit side in the seventh for the hard-throwing right-hander’s 14th consecutive scoreless relief appearance. … Detroit’s Justin Verlander faces Matt Shoemaker on Saturday night at the Big A. … Trout was 0 for 4, going hitless for just the eighth time in his last 56 games.