ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Alberto Callaspo's teammates chased him from first base into left field while fireworks exploded above Angel Stadium, smacking the pinch-hitting hero on his back until he was sore.
"I was hurt," Callaspo said with a grin. "That's OK. I'd take 20 like that."
The Los Angeles Angels are getting pretty good at celebrations during a 13-3 surge that gets them closer to the postseason with each big finish.
Callaspo drove home pinch-runner Peter Bourjos with a two-out single in the ninth inning, and the Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 Friday night for their ninth win in 10 games.
Kendrys Morales had a triple, a double and a one-out single that started the ninth-inning rally for the Angels, who moved just two games behind Baltimore in the AL wild-card race.
"We're just playing together, trying to do all the little things," Callaspo said. "We'll keep playing together and see what happens in the end."
Erick Aybar beat out a slow two-out grounder against Octavio Dotel (5-3), advancing Bourjos to second. Callaspo then pinch-hit for slumping All-Star Mark Trumbo and drove a rolling grounder past diving Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta into left field, scoring the speedy Bourjos.
Torii Hunter and Howie Kendrick drove in first-inning runs for the Angels (75-63), who moved a season-high 12 games over .500. They also closed the gap on the Orioles (77-61) for the second wild-card spot, with Tampa Bay (76-62) in between and Oakland (77-60) just a half-game in front of Baltimore.
Max Scherzer pitched eight dominant innings of five-hit ball while taking over the major league lead with nine more strikeouts for the Tigers, but Ervin Santana matched him with 6 2-3 innings of four-hit ball and 10 strikeouts for the Angels. Detroit couldn't do much against four relievers, setting up Callaspo's heroics.
"Scherzer is tough," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's been tough on us all year, but Ervin matched him pitch for pitch. It took a couple of relievers to do it, too, and in the ninth, we got the big hit."
Prince Fielder and Alex Avila homered as Detroit wasted a chance to pull even atop the AL Central with Chicago, which lost 7-5 to Kansas City. The Tigers (73-64) also opened a 10-game trip by losing ground on the Angels and the Rays in the wild-card race.
"We had an opportunity, and it was a terrific major league baseball game, well played by everybody," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "We had our shot. That's all you can ask for. ... We've got to go win games, simple as that. You're not going to back into anything."
Ernesto Frieri (3-0) pitched the ninth for the Angels, striking out Avila to strand speedy pinch-runner Quintin Berry on second.
Continue reading this story on the...