DETROIT -- It's a story the Angels have heard before. The starting pitcher's inability to go deep enough into Saturday's game led to an early entry by the bullpen. And the bullpen's inability to close out another game led to another loss.
Starter Dan Haren was much improved against the Tigers compared to his last two starts. But the right-hander failed to get the final out of the sixth inning and the Angels' depleted bullpen -- still recovering from Thursday's 10-inning game in Boston -- gave up a one-run lead with two outs in the eighth for a 5-3 loss at Comerica Park.
"This was just a residual situation from the Boston series where so many guys had to pitch," said manager Mike Scioscia after the game, clarifying that he didn't have the usual arms available in the bullpen to pitch the final two innings.
Scioscia said left-hander Scott Downs and right-hander Ernesto Frieri were both recovering from their previous outings. Therefore, the skipper turned to Jordan Walden and then Garrett Richards, hoping to reach Kevin Jepsen for the ninth.
Richards, a rookie who had served as a starter all season until Thursday, was impressive enough that -- with the bullpen options being so limited -- Scioscia trusted the 24-year-old to get five outs and preserve a one-run lead pitching for his third consecutive night.
Richards had done his job up until two outs in the eighth, when the Tigers rallied for the game-tying and go-ahead runs on five hits. Prince Fielder and Andy Dirks singled to put runners on first and third. Scioscia elected to leave Richards in to face Jhonny Peralta for the second straight night.
This time, Peralta doubled on a 1-1, 96-mph fastball down the left-field line to score Fielder and Dirks.
"I didn't change my mentality [from last night]," said Richards. "I was filling up the zone. Probably the ball that Peralta hit down the line was up in the zone, but I wasn't going to change my approach."
"Yesterday, he got me because I don't see him too good," Peralta said. "Today, I'd already seen him so it made it easy, because I already know what he's got."
In 41 games since the All-Star break, the Angels' bullpen has allowed 79 runs in 118 innings (6.03 ERA).
"Hopefully our bullpen's going to start to settle," Scioscia said.
For Haren, he pitched on nine days rest and held the Tigers scoreless until two outs in the sixth. He said he felt great, Scioscia said he looked great, but the two-run rally cut his night short.
Haren was pitching with a three-run lead thanks to a Vernon Wells home run and three Tigers' errors that resulted in two runs. A leadoff double by Omar Infante in the sixth signaled trouble, but after Haren retired Miguel Cabrera and Fielder, the crisis appeared to be avoided.
But Delmon Young hit an RBI double to left field and Dirks singled just past the outstretched glove of shortstop Erick Aybar to drive in two and cut the deficit to one. Dirks' hit ended Haren's night.
"I felt good through the game," Haren said. "I got out of a few jams, I just couldn't get out of that last one. Obviously I would've liked to give us a little more length, but I couldn't do it."
One more out from Haren might've been all the Angels needed, Scioscia said.
"If Dan could've gotten through the sixth, things line up a little bit better," Scioscia said.
"... Jordan came in to close that inning, but had a little bit of trouble in the seventh. Garrett felt good and had enough length to hopefully get to [Jepsen], but it just didn't materialize."
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak and moved the Angels to 3 1/2 games behind the Orioles and A's for a Wild Card spot. But the Angels were far from calling it a spoiled road trip.
"Every loss is a tough loss at this point," Haren said. "That was a battle. We're batting another playoff-contending team. They're obviously not going to lay down against us in the late innings. ... We've got to come out tomorrow and take the series. If we are flying home taking five out of six games, then I think we accomplished what we needed to do."
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.