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DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers are rolling thanks to power pitching, clutch hitting and a touch of grit.
Max Scherzer struck out nine and got plenty of run support as Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila homered to help Detroit beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 Thursday.
The Tigers won the four-game series and have 10 victories in their last 12 games after slipping a few games under .500 just before the All-Star break.
“When you have a good team, at some point they’re going to play good,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “And, we’re playing pretty good right now.
“This is really not a surprise to me. You just have to weather the storms we did in the first half and we survived that pretty well.”
Scherzer (9-5) gave up only one run — on Mike Trout’s homer in the sixth inning — three hits and four walks over seven innings.
Prince Fielder provided a lift with his bat and hustle in the second inning. He hit a flare down the left-field line and rumbled to second, sliding ahead of the tag and knocking Maicer Izturis way off the bag.
“This guy is just a workmanlike player — with star status, obviously — and he just comes here every day to bust his tail,” Leyland said. “He got the double out of the box. That’s pretty impressive.”
Fielder shrugged off the praise.
“That’s just how I play,” he said. “I don’t do it for a spark. I just play hard.
“I gave myself a little headache. I don’t know what I hit, but I was a little dizzy.”
Fielder scored the game’s first run on Jhonny Peralta’s two-out double and Avila made it 3-0 on the next pitch with his sixth home run.
Danny Worth’s RBI double brought Peralta home for a four-run cushion in the fourth inning. Cabrera cracked a pitch to left for his 21st homer to put Detroit up 5-0 in the fifth.
Trout struck out swinging in his first two at-bats against Scherzer, then struck back with his 14th homer in the sixth to allow the Angels to avoid being shut out. The hot-hitting rookie has scored in 11 straight games, pulling within two of matching the franchise-record streak set by Jim Edmonds in 1995.
That wasn’t enough against Scherzer and the suddenly rolling Tigers in the Motor City.
“He kept us off balance all day, there wasn’t a lot to be had,” Trout said. “He was throwing in the upper 90s with two other great pitches. It made it difficult to come up with a good plan against him. The way he was throwing, I don’t think anyone could’ve done much.”
After Scherzer’s strong start in which he had at least nine strikeouts for the seventh time this season, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde combined to pitch two perfect innings.
Detroit outscored Los Angeles 12-3 after the Angels routed the Tigers 13-0 Tuesday,
“The last two nights, we got excellent pitching and you always look like a good team when you do that,” Leyland said. “We shut down a powerhouse. They got a lot of nice combinations of power and speed, it’s pretty impressive.”
Jerome Williams, meanwhile, got roughed up.
Williams (6-7) allowed five runs and nine hits over six-plus innings. Williams has lost five straight starts for the first time in his career after a strong start this year.
“They’re a good hitting team and I left the ball up in the zone,” he said. “I just gotta get back to where I was earlier in the season.”
The Angels have won just five of their last 13 games.
“We just need to kind of catch our breath a little,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “We haven’t played well out of the break and we’ve got to get our groove back.”
NOTES: Albert Pujols went 0 for 3 with a walk as a DH because Scioscia didn’t want to risk having him and his banged-up left foot in the field. “We’re going to evaluate him every day but hopefully this is short-term,” Scioscia said. Pujols insisted he felt fine before the game. ... Both teams are set to host teams leading their division. Detroit begins a three-game series against the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox on Friday night, with its ace, Justin Verlander, and Jake Peavy scheduled to start. “I’m sure it’s going to be big in the community, but it’s July,” Leyland said. ... Angels ace Jered Weaver will face AL West-leading Texas, whose probable pitcher is Derek Holland in the series opener Friday night. ... Detroit DH Delmon Young went 0 for 4 to end his 10-game hitting streak. ... The Tigers have won 11 of their last 16 games against the Angels at home.