Washburn allows six runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Mike Maroth thinks all the losing he did two years ago made him a better pitcher.

The left-hander pitched three-hit ball over eight innings Sunday, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 10-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels and looking nothing like the pitcher who finished 9-21 with a 5.73 ERA in 2003.

"I learned a lot about how to deal with adversity," said Maroth, who pitched a one-hitter last July 16 against the Yankees. "I had to play with my back against the wall a lot, and it made me tougher. Going through that has brought me to where I am today."

Maroth (3-2) lost his first nine decisions two years ago, the first Tigers pitcher to do that since Ted Gray in 1953. By season's end, he became the first 20-game loser in the majors since Oakland's Brian Kingman in 1980 and Detroit's first since Mickey Lolich in 1974.

But that is all behind him now, and his teammates have a greater appreciation for him because of all the hits he took -- and gave up.

"That year when he lost 21, I had so much respect for him going out there and taking the ball," first baseman Dmitri Young said. "When he lost his 20th, nobody knew at the time that his grandmother passed away like the day before. And he still wanted the ball. That says a lot about the guy and about his character, that he could go out there in extremely difficult conditions to help the team win. What doesn't kill him only makes him stronger. And if that didn't build him up, he wouldn't be here right now."

Vladimir Guerrero's infield single in the first was the Angels' only hit until Robb Quinlan drove Maroth's first pitch of the sixth off the top of the center field fence for his first home run since Aug. 6 against Kansas City's Darrell May.

"I thought his ball had great movement," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "He had a lot of grounders and popups, which meant he kept them off-balance. That's Mike Maroth. I mean, that's what you're looking for when you get him.

"He's got a little more experience now. I mean, you're not going to see any more velocity, but he knows the hitters now and he knows their weaknesses. And when you hit your spots and change speeds, you can win," he said.

Maroth struck out two, walked two and breezed to the victory after his teammates staked him to an 8-0 lead in the first three innings.

Brandon Inge led off the game with a home run and Ivan Rodriguez
triggered a seven-run third with a three-run triple, helping the Tigers beat the defending AL West champs for the second straight time after losing 21 of the previous 25 meetings.

Jarrod Washburn (2-1) lasted only 2 1/3 innings, surrendering six runs and eight hits. It was the left-hander's shortest outing since June 20 at Houston, when he left after two innings because of back stiffness.

"I think Wash is at his best when he's a pitcher and not a thrower," manager Mike Scioscia said. "When he changes speeds and hits his spots, he's a tough pitcher. But when he tries to play powerball too much, he's been roughed up a little. If you're not
changing speeds and creating soft spots in the zone that you can pitch to, it doesn't matter how hard you throw."

The Angels had allowed just 10 earned runs in their previous 58 innings.

"I let the team down today and I let the rest of the starters down," Washburn said. "We had a heck of a run going, and I didn't keep it going."

Inge was 0-for-10 lifetime against Washburn before driving his second pitch of the game to left-center for his third homer and first of his career leading off a game.

In the third, Rodriguez cleared the bases with a drive over the head of left fielder Garret Anderson that took a weird carom off the bullpen fence and rolled toward the alley.

Rondell White added an RBI single one out later, and Young followed with a double into the left field corner on Washburn's 53rd and final pitch. White slowed down approaching third but kept going after Anderson bobbled the ball. It was only the seventh error by Anderson in his last 576 games.

Kevin Gregg relieved Washburn and walked four of his first five batters, including Nook Logan and Inge, to force in two more runs. Gregg threw 28 pitches that inning, one more than Washburn.

The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the seventh on a throwing error by second baseman Chone Figgins and an RBI double by Ramon Martinez that chased Gregg.

Game notes
Gregg has walked 15 in 18 2/3 innings. Last season he issued 28 walks in 87 2/3 innings and set a record for Angels relievers with 13 wild pitches -- including an AL-record four in one game at Seattle. ... Maroth has a 9.31 ERA in his two losses and a 2.20 ERA in his other five starts -- including a pair of no-decisions he left with a lead.