DETROIT -- Rick Porcello doesn't know what happened at the beginning of July.
Whatever it is, he wants it to continue for at least two more months.Porcello improved to 5-0 in five July starts, allowing two runs in eight innings as the Detroit Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels 12-2 on Friday night."I was throwing the ball well before these last five starts, but now I'm getting the results we need," said Porcello, who had a 3.06 ERA for the month. "I've been trying to do a better job of mixing up my pitches, and I think I've been able to keep the batters off balance."
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Porcello (11-6) allowed five hits and didn't walk a batter while striking out six."Rick was fantastic," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That might be the best game he's pitched since he came to the big leagues."The 22-year-old Porcello got more than enough help from his offense. Carlos Guillen and Victor Martinez finished with four RBIs, while Ramon Santiago added three hits."Victor goes out there every day and shows you why he is a professional hitter -- he's never afraid to just take a base hit when that's what there for him," Leyland said. "Carlos lets us stretch our lineup with another professional hitter, and also a switch-hitter. We had four switch-hitters out there tonight -- that's not something you see from the Tigers."Mark Trumbo had five RBIs in Los Angeles' 12-7 win on Thursday, but didn't have nearly as much success against Porcello."He mixed his pitches really well, he had good movement and he kept the ball down," he said. "He wasn't afraid of using his off-speed pitch as a weapon, and that made it tough."Tyler Chatwood (6-7) gave up six runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. The Angels had won three straight and five of seven."They just jumped on me," Chatwood said. "My pitches were all right, but they put good swings on them."With one out in the sixth, Martinez gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead with an RBI single, and Guillen followed with his first triple since July 9, 2010. Alex Avila drove in Guillen with a base hit, ending Chatwood's night and putting Detroit up 6-2."I thought as the inning went on, he was getting too much of the plate," said Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia. "He was aggressive with his fastball, but Martinez and Guillen jumped on them and drove them, too."Martinez and Guillen added RBI doubles in the seventh to give the Tigers a six-run lead, and the pair both drove in runs for the third straight inning in Detroit's three-run eighth.The teams traded solo homers in the first, with Maicer Izturis' leadoff shot being matched by Brennan Boesch's 418-footer. The Angels went ahead again in the fifth on Trumbo's double, but Detroit made it 2-2 in the bottom of the inning on Santiago's RBI double."It's huge when your offense does that for you," Porcello said. "I give up the homer, and Brennan comes right back with one. I give up another run in the fifth, and our guys get one right back. That's what this offense does."
Angels shortstop Erick Aybar made a highlight-reel play to start a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth. A bad hop bounced off his chest, but he reached down and swatted the ball with his bare hard to Izturis, who made the relay throw to first. ... Howie Kendrick lost control of his bat in spectacular fashion in the fifth inning, with it landing in the stands past third base. On the next pitch, he lined a ball into his own dugout. No one was injured on either play. ... Austin Jackson is on pace for 177 strikeouts, which would break his own major league record for players hitting fewer than 10 homers in a season. Jackson struck out 170 times as a rookie last season. ... Don Kelly was fine despite getting hit in the head with a throw to the plate in the eighth inning. "He might actually be better now," Leyland joked.