ANAHEIM -- Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and helped his club avoid a sweep at Angel Stadium on Wednesday, leading Detroit to a 3-0 victory in the series finale for its first win in Anaheim in 10 games.
Fulmer didn't surrender a hit until C.J. Cron lined a single with two outs in the seventh, and the 23-year-old right-hander finished giving up only two hits and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, striking out eight. Fulmer has now thrown 7 2/3 scoreless innings in back-to-back starts, moving to 5-1 with a 3.24 ERA.
He is the fourth Tigers pitcher since 1913 to win five of his first seven career games, joining Suds Sutherland (1921), Howie Koplitz (1961) and Zach Miner (2006).
"Fastball, changeup, slider, I feel like everything was working, for the most part," Fulmer said, "and the defense did a heckuva job. They all had great plays out there, and I trust them, so I pitched to contact and tried to go deep into the game."
The Tigers scored off Matt Shoemaker on a couple of RBI singles, by Ian Kinsler in the fifth and by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the sixth. In the ninth, Angels fill-in shortstop Gregorio Petit booted a slow roller from J.D. Martinez that could've resulted in an inning-ending double play and instead gave Detroit its third run.
The Angels, without Yunel Escobar and Albert Pujols in the starting lineup, threatened in the eighth, getting a two-out ground-rule double by Petit to put runners on second and third with two outs. But Francisco Rodriguez got Johnny Giavotella to ground out, then kept the Angels scoreless in the ninth, recording his 401st career save in his first appearance as a visitor at Angel Stadium.
The win snapped the Tigers' four-game losing streak.
"Sometimes when you haven't seen a guy, you try to feel him out," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Fulmer. "There's a lot that goes into it. He has a good arm, and he was really pitch-efficient early on, so we couldn't get good looks at him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tigers get to Shoemaker: Shoemaker had held his old hometown team to two runs over 24 career innings before Detroit broke through against him with a run in the fifth. Jose Iglesias' double down the left-field line set up Kinsler for an RBI single on Shoemaker's next pitch, giving Detroit a 1-0 lead.
Off the hook: One day after belting two home runs, including the walk-off in the ninth, Cron ended Fulmer's no-hit bid, lining a clean single into right field with two outs in the seventh. Cron extended his arms just far enough on an outside-corner, 98-mph fastball to give the Angels only their second baserunner of the game. Kole Calhoun also drew a walk in the fourth.
K-Rod returns to Angel Stadium: The last time Rodriguez pitched at Angel Stadium was Sept. 27, 2008, his final days as Angels closer. Eight years and four teams later, he came on with the potential tying run at second base and two outs in the eighth, and kept the shutout intact. It was Rodriguez's 100th save at Angel Stadium, a feat previously only accomplished by Troy Percival.
Impressive company: Shoemaker worked around 10 hits to give up only two runs in seven innings, striking out eight and walking none. He has now recorded 33 strikeouts since his last walk, breaking the franchise record previously held by Frank Tanana, who struck out 30 without a walk in 1976. Over his last three starts, Shoemaker has given up just four runs in 22 2/3 innings, dropping his ERA from 8.49 to 5.50.
"I think earlier the mentality got away from me," Shoemaker said. "I was kind of out there throwing, and now I'm actually pitching. I think that's the biggest thing, the biggest adjustment. I'm trying to execute each pitch, have a purpose. Earlier on, I feel like mentally I was just throwing. I'd grab the ball and throw it, and not have intent behind the pitch."
"You look up there and you see a zero in the hits column, so obviously it's there. If anybody tells you they're not thinking about it, they're lying, in my opinion." -- Fulmer, on noticing the no-hit bid
"What did I see? That's the thing. It was tough to see today with the shade. He was good, he mixed pitches and everything was around the zone, and it was really tough to see the ball." -- Petit, on Fulmer's effectiveness during a 4 p.m. PT first pitch when shadows were prevalent
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pujols was called on to hit with one on and one out in the eighth, his first pinch-hit appearance since 2011, his final year with the Cardinals. Pujols, out of the lineup for the first time in order to get a rest, struck out against Fulmer on three straight pitches, the last of which was a slider off the outside part of the plate.
"You try to take one pitch at a time," Fulmer said. "Obviously, I've watched him for years. He's a great player and it's an honor to face guys like that. But in the end, Salty did a tremendous job behind the plate. I trusted him."
Tigers: It's a quick turnaround for the Tigers, who return to Detroit without an off-day for a 7:40 p.m. ET makeup game against the Yankees on Thursday. Matt Boyd will make his second start as he tries to stake a claim to the rotation spot opened by Anibal Sanchez's move to the bullpen.
Angels: The Angels will enjoy an off-day in Pittsburgh on Thursday, then start a weekend series against the Pirates from PNC Park. Angels right-hander Jered Weaver takes the ball opposite veteran lefty Francisco Liriano on Friday, with game time set for 4:05 p.m. PT.
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