ANAHEIM, Calif. - Joe Saunders and the Los Angeles Angels both got their seasons back on track in the same afternoon.
And Torii Hunter had something to do with every positive development.
Hunter hit an early two-run homer, Saunders pitched five effective innings in his return to the rotation, and Los Angeles snapped its three-game skid with a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers yesterday .
Hunter, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, has a hit in every game since returning from a month on the disabled list last week.
His first-inning shot off Edwin Jackson (10-6) provided a cushion for Saunders, who looked good after a 2 1/2-week therapy regimen.
"I think that early home run helped Joe relax," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's certainly the most consistent velocity I've seen all year from Joe."
Saunders (10-7) was cool while making his first start since Aug. 7, after which he went on the disabled list. He allowed four hits while striking out six.
"It was nice to be able to throw the ball without any hint of tightness," Saunders said. Kendry Morales and Chone Figgins added run-scoring hits for the Angels.
Los Angeles capitalized on Jackson's high leg kick to steal five bases, matching a season high.
"They got a couple of runs early with the home run, then they got two bleeders to get another run on me," said Jackson, who yielded eight hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings during his first loss in seven starts since July 19. "That's what a good team does. They find a way to get runs, whether it's hard-hit balls or well-placed balls."
Four Los Angeles relievers collaborated on four scoreless innings. Adam Everett hit a two-run homer for the AL Central-leading Tigers. Detroit earned an impressive series victory before opening a key four-game home set with Tampa Bay.
"Going into the game, I felt like we'd score more runs, but I tip my hat to Saunders," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He pitched good. Mike (Scioscia) made us look at a different relief pitcher every inning, which was pretty smart. I thought we might hit a couple of homers today. I was not anticipating Everett would be one of them."
Everett halved the Angels' lead in the fifth with just his third homer of the season, the shortstop's first since June 10.
Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning double.
NOTES: The Tigers sent right-handed pitcher Armando Galarraga back to Triple-A Toledo for a 10-day stint to rest his inflamed pitching elbow. Nate Robertson, out since late June with a left elbow injury, will be recalled to start for Detroit Saturday. ... Umpire Tim Welke missed his second straight game after getting hit in the mask with a foul tip Monday night. Delfin Colon again replaced him. ... Vladimir Guerrero's fifth-inning single was his 1,000th hit with the Angels.-5.0603 -42.8239
Joe Saunders and the Los Angeles Angels both got their seasons back on track in the same afternoon.