video thumbnail

DET@LAA: Bourjos jumps, makes catch against the wall

ANAHEIM -- Peter Bourjos was at his spectacular best in center field and on the basepaths on Monday night. Nobody in the holiday crowd numbering 43,012 at Angel Stadium applauded more passionately than Joel Pineiro.

Energized by Bourjos' game-changing catch against the wall on Miguel Cabrera's drive in the sixth inning with two on and none out, Pineiro held firm to a two-run lead and the Angels went on to prevail, 5-1. Torii Hunter and sizzling Vernon Wells bombed solo homers to power the Angels' nine-hit attack against southpaw Charlie Furbush and three relievers.

Their 15th victory in the past 21 games and ninth in the past 11 enabled the Angels to retain a share of the American League West lead with Texas. The Tigers fell 1 1/2 games behind the Indians in the AL Central.

Bourjos, whose bat and legs manufactured a run in the third inning, also robbed Cabrera in the fourth by racing in to glove a bullet with another runner in scoring position.

"I felt like I had to make that play -- two on, no outs -- and that made it easier, knowing I didn't have a choice in the matter," Bourjos said of the wall-rattling grab denying Cabrera in the sixth. "I was going to hit that wall. I felt like it was do or die.

"I moved back a little on him that at-bat. [Tuesday] I might play him on the track."

Mark Trumbo, who saw Bourjos make the spectacular almost routine coming up together in the Angels' system, wasn't awed by this one.

"It was nice," Trumbo said, grinning. "But all the games I've played with Pete ... no, I wouldn't put it in the top 20."

It clearly ranked near the top on Pineiro's personal list.

"Awesome," Pineiro said. "I think that was a momentum-changer. It was a big time in the ballgame. I was trying to get a ground ball, and [Cabrera] hit it hard. Bourjos ran it down, and then I got the double play [on Victor Martinez's grounder to Howard Kendrick at second] to get out of the inning. That was huge."

Impressed, but not pleased, was Detroit manager Jim Leyland.

"They made every play you can make," Leyland said. "We hit some balls right on the money, didn't find any holes."

Hunter, celebrating his return to the lineup after sustaining a bruised left hand on a pitch by the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda on Friday night, mashed a Furbush delivery off the rock pile in left-center to hand Pineiro a first-inning lead.

"I was thinking if I was hitting," Furbush said, "I probably would've hit that ball, too. It was just a bad pitch ... right over the middle of the plate."

The homer was the ninth for Hunter, whose first half also was derailed by a rib contusion suffered crashing into a wall in Florida. His 40 RBIs lead the club.

"I'm back," Hunter said. "I like the way we're playing now. Peter? ... I've seen him get some great steps and angles, and I'm like, 'Wow. How'd he even get close to it?' He's getting there."

Wells unloaded his blast, his 12th of the season, to left against lefty Phil Coke in the eighth. Wells has eight homers and 17 RBIs in his past 19 games.

Bourjos singled sharply to left leading off the third and stole second and third, his 10th and 11th thefts of the season. Losing his footing in his delivery, Furbush balked Bourjos home.

"It was just a well-rounded game," Bourjos said. "I felt good offensively and defensively."

The Tigers dented Pineiro with a run in the fourth when Jhonny Peralta whistled a two-out single to left to cash in Magglio Ordonez.

Pineiro benefited from superb plays by Bourjos (robbing Cabrera on a sinking liner in the fourth), Wells in left (taking extra bases from Brandon Inge in the fifth) and from Bourjos again on the wall-banger in the sixth.

"J.P. used his defense," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Peter made that great catch, and Howie stayed in there and turned the double play. Joel pitched. He had enough to get through some spots."

Visibly delighted as his outfielders performed their gymnastics, Pineiro was well aware of Detroit's thunder.

"My sinker was better than it's been the past few games," Pineiro said. "I felt great out there. But they wear you down mentally more than anything with that lineup."

Furbush departed in the fifth after Aybar dropped a two-out single into center field to score Alberto Callaspo. The RBI was No. 36 for Aybar, whose .333 average with runners in scoring position leads the team.

Furbush (1-2) yielded three earned runs on five hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings, striking out five.

Wells doubled with one out in the sixth against Lester Oliveros and scored on Trumbo's two-out single to right.

Pineiro pitched out of another jam in the seventh, getting Inge to tap into a double play with runners at the corners after Peralta's double and Ryan Raburn's single to right. Peralta had chosen not to try to score on Hunter's strong, accurate arm.

Pineiro moved to 4-3 with seven strong innings. It was his best performance since his second start of the season on May 5 at Boston when he held the Red Sox scoreless for 5 2/3 innings.

Scott Downs and Michael Kohn tamed the Tigers in the final two innings to nail it down.

Kendrick, the first-time AL All-Star, doubled to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, matching Aybar's team high for the season. Comments