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Justin Upton, Justin Verlander power Detroit Tigers past Los Angeles Angels

By
Rich Shook, The Sports Xchange
Detroit Tigers left fielder Justin Upton (8). Photo by Shelley Lipton/UPI
Detroit Tigers left fielder Justin Upton (8). Photo by Shelley Lipton/UPI | License Photo

DETROIT -- Brad Ausmus isn't a big fan of four-out saves.

He will, however, do it if necessary.

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And Friday night, the Detroit manager felt a four-save was required to help nail down the Tigers 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, their fifth win in a row.

Justin Upton hit his fourth home run of the week, a two-run drive to left in a three-run sixth inning, and Justin Verlander retired 20 of 21 batters between singles in the first and eighth innings

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An RBI double by Kole Calhoun, closing the Angels' deficit to 4-2 with two out in the eighth, prompted Ausmus to bring on Francisco Rodriguez for his 36th save this season and the 422nd of his career, tying him for fifth place on the all-time saves list with Billy Wagner.

Verlander (14-7), who walked one and struck out eight, gave up a one-out single to Kaleb Cowart in the eighth then the two-out RBI double to right by Calhoun.

Rodriguez came in to walk Mike Trout, threw a wild pitch and got Albert Pujols to ground out to short before finishing his four-out save with a scoreless ninth.

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"Mike did a great job of drawing the walk," Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said, "and then you knew it was going to be a battle between Frankie and Albert.

"Albert jumped the hanging breaking ball, but he couldn't quite wrap it around the pole. And then Frankie made a great pitch. That's what he does."

"I had a feeling it was foul," Ausmus said. "I think off the bat I might have stopped breathing..."

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Pujols had reached Verlander for his 25th home run this season and 585th of his career with two out in the first. Pujols is one home run from tying Frank Robinson for ninth on the all-time home run list.

This was the third time this year Ausmus has called on Rodriguez for a four-out save.

"I don't like four-out saves for closers," he said. "I just don't think today's closers are really wired that way.

"You're not going to see me do it often. I think long-term K-Rod could handle it. But I don't think closers are built that way nowadays.

"I just think the pitch counts get high, the adrenalin see-saw is tough. A lot of closers pitch on adrenalin; they pitch on adrenalin for one inning. To ask them to come in for an out, then they sit down, to ask them to pump themselves back up, it's tough to do sometimes."

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Cameron Maybin hit a home run for the Tigers, his third, with one out and nobody on in the seventh to chase Angels starter Ricky Nolasco (4-12, 0-4 with Los Angeles) to make it 4-1.

Victor Martinez doubled into the right-field corner leading off the sixth and scored on a score-tying double to left center by J.D. Martinez before Upton hit his 17th home run of the season to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.

"Ricky got some big outs early and was actually doing a really nice job of locating his pitches," Scioscia said. "That sixth inning happened to him in a heck of a hurry with the two doubles and the homer, and then he elevated a two-seamer to Maybin in the seventh."

Upton hit a pair of three-run home runs last Sunday, another three-run shot Wednesday and this two-run blow Friday night.

"He's been great since he came back off his three-day hiatus," Ausmus said of Upton. "When you put him in the lineup and he's hitting like he is, it really lengthens it. He worked on some things in the cage, it seems to be bearing a little fruit."

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Verlander threw a 1-0 93-mph fastball right down the middle to Pujols with two out and nobody on in the first and the Angels' DH did what he has so often in his career -- ripped it into the left field seats.

C.J. Cron singled after Pujols' solo shot, but Verlander allowed Los Angeles just one baserunner from there -- a two-out walk to Andrelton Simmons in the fourth -- until Cowart singled in the eighth.

NOTES: The Angels scratched Saturday's scheduled starter, RHP Jhoulys Chacin, and replaced him with LHP Brett Oberholtzer. Chacin will now pitch out of the bullpen. ... Detroit brought SS Jose Iglesias (hamstring) back from a rehab assignment but won't activate him until Saturday. ... Los Angeles entered its weekend series at Detroit with a 21-5 record in last 26 games and winners of six of nine at Comerica Park. ... Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann (neck) was to throw 40-45 pitches of a rehab start at Toledo, the first of three prior to rejoining Detroit.

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