Kendrick's two HRs, Pujols' 497th lead Angels
DH drives in four runs, slugger hits three-run shot in Weaver's first win
DETROIT -- Mike Scioscia may have been a little sour about having to use his closer in a game his team at one point led by 10 runs. But everything else about how the Angels began a difficult three-city road trip had to feel comforting to the longtime skipper, from the up-and-down production generated by a shorthanded offense to the way his ace pitcher found his form against one of baseball's most imposing lineups.
Howie Kendrick hit his first two homers of the season, Albert Pujols went deep for the 497th time in his career, Ian Stewart fell a homer shy of the cycle, four Angels hitters had multiple extra-base hits and Jered Weaver pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Tigers, capturing his first win amid an 11-6 rout on a chilly Friday night at Comerica Park.
"It's always nice to get the monkey off your back early on," said Weaver, now 1-2 through his first four starts. "Hopefully, I'll build off this one."
The Angels looked like a team that built off its last one, a gritty, 12-inning win over the A's that ended on Chris Iannetta's walk-off homer late Wednesday night and avoided what would've been a demoralizing sweep in a series where each game was decided by one run.
The Angels played four extra-inning games in their just-completed six-game homestand, but there would be no need for that on Friday.
A lineup that was without without Josh Hamilton (left thumb surgery), Kole Calhoun (sprained right ankle) and David Freese (scratched because of a tight right quad) forced Drew Smyly to throw 64 pitches in two innings, racked up 10 extra-base hits for the second time in five days and put up double-digit runs by the sixth inning, while en route to a 10th consecutive win against the Tigers.
"We've had some tough games," Kendrick said, "but we've been battling. That says a lot about our team."
With a four-seam fastball that was mostly 86-87 mph, a curveball that was thrown as low as 64, a changeup that's in the mid-to-high 70s and a two-seamer he relied on heavily, Weaver scattered three hits, walked three, struck out three and, in typical fashion, recorded 12 of his 18 outs in the air, dropping his ERA from 5.79 to 4.74.
It was the lanky right-hander the Angels expected, a far cry from the guy who labored through season-opening starts against the Mariners, Astros and Mets. As former teammate Torii Hunter said, "Weaver drives a Mercedes, too. He's good."
"The strength has been coming back a little bit," the Mercedes-driving Weaver said. "I've been working real hard at getting the strength back; legs and shoulder stuff. Maybe the angle was a little better on the fastball than normal, but I threw the ball the same way I have been all year. I'm trying to find that happy medium -- not trying to do to much, trying to stay within myself and pitch. I felt like I did a better job of that today."
The runs surely helped, and none were bigger than the ones in the top of the fourth.
Weaver ran into trouble for the first and only time in the bottom of the third, giving up a two-out RBI single to Hunter and then walking Miguel Cabrera. But he battled back from being down 2-0 to strike out Victor Martinez, and his offense reeled off four runs the next half-inning, getting a two-run double from Mike Trout and a two-run homer from Kendrick -- initially called a double, then overturned after an official challenge.
"Very comforting," Weaver said. "Four runs was great. Going into it 4-1 and to come back and score four takes even more pressure off. Especially in a big ballpark like this with the cold weather, you can fill up the zone even more than you would."
Pujols made it an 11-1 laugher in the sixth, with a three-run, line-drive homer over the left-field fence that gave him five home runs and put him three away from being the 26th member of the 500 club.
It was the Angels' Major League-leading 27th home run, after totaling 24 in all of April last season.
"We have the potential to drive the ball as well as any team we've had here," Scioscia said. "There's some different dynamics of the offense, maybe not quite as much team speed, but definitely batter's box offense is there. Even without Kole and Josh, we're still seeing some guys drive the ball well, and that's important."
Josh Wall struggled mightily in his Angels debut, getting charged with five earned runs after allowing all five batters he faced in the seventh to reach and forcing Scioscia to use Ernesto Frieri in the ninth.
But the Angels got a win to kick off a road trip in which they'll face three teams -- the Tigers, Nationals and Yankees -- that went a combined 42 games above .500 last season. And a lot else went right.
"It's a tough road trip, but you can't think about that," Pujols said. "We still have a really good ballclub and we have some good pitching going. We're going to face some good pitching. We just have to get ready to play and hopefully get the lead off the bat like we did today."