DETROIT -- For the most part, the Angels' starting pitching during their three-game weekend set with the Tigers was good. But the offense minus Albert Pujols (injury) and essentially without Mike Trout (1-for-13) was not.
After scoring 27 runs in Boston, the Halos totaled just seven runs all weekend against Detroit, as right-hander Max Scherzer completely handcuffed the lineup in Sunday's game, leading the Tigers to a 5-2 win in the rubber game at Comerica Park.
"Those guys did a good job of pitching to [us], and they certainly held Mike and Mark [Trumbo] in check," said manager Mike Scioscia about the Tigers' pitching staff. "They held everybody. I mean, we scored seven runs in the series. They held us down."
For Trout, it marked the third series all year in which he's played in all three games and recorded just one hit (May 14-16 vs. Oakland and June 15-17 vs. Arizona). Along with Trumbo, the pair combined to go 2-for-24 with 12 strikeouts.
Containing those two couldn't have made Tigers manager Jim Leyland happier.
"I thought we did a terrific job, and I think that was one of the big keys to the series, without question," Leyland said. "That's 54 home runs you're talking about between the two of them.
Trout's only hit in the series was an infield single in the first inning against Scherzer. Coincidentally, the first inning proved to be the only time anyone -- besides Howie Kendrick in the second -- could tally a hit off Scherzer in the game.
Maicer Izturis lined a single to left field and Trout went from first to third. Torii Hunter followed it up by grounding into a double play, but it was enough for Trout to score the game's first run -- his 100th of the season. Kendrys Morales doubled next and it appeared the Angels had Scherzer's number.
Following a walk to Vernon Wells in the second, Scherzer went on to retire 14 consecutive batters, putting the brakes on the Angels' offense. He exited after seven strong innings, having allowed four hits while striking out nine.
"For me, it was very difficult today," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "I had a very difficult time picking up the baseball. I've faced him in the past -- and he's very good, obviously. But I never felt like I didn't see it. Today, I couldn't pick it up until it was about halfway to the plate."
The Angels finished the series batting .200 (20-for-100). Scioscia said it was unfortunate the offense went flat, because their starting pitching certainly gave them a chance to win.
Ervin Santana pitched well for the better part of the day, dueling Scherzer pitch for pitch until Prince Fielder and Delmon Young hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning to break open a 1-1 game.
"I thought Ervin pitched really well today," Iannetta said. "I thought it was a great game he pitched today. It was just two pitches. It's baseball. It [stinks]. I don't know exactly how many he threw, but 98 out of 100 pitches were awesome."
The two pitches that weren't awesome traveled a long way.
Fielder pulled a 90-mph fastball deep over the right-field wall. Santana said he was just trying to throw a slider for a strike to Young, who followed Fielder by driving the right-hander's first pitch over the fence in left.
"Just two mistakes -- back-to-back mistakes," Iannetta said. "He tried to go down and away with a fastball. It ended up being down and in to Prince Fielder, which is a bad location. Sometimes you get a foul ball, sometimes they hammer it.
"The next pitch, we were trying to throw an offspeed pitch to Delmon down and away, and [Santana] left it up in the zone over the plate -- and that's usually what happens when you do that with a slider."
It was the 10th game in which Santana has allowed two or more home runs, and his 33 home runs allowed leads the American League. Still, he got through seven innings allowing just five hits, while walking three and striking out five.
"It was a good outing. Just a couple bad pitches," Santana said.
With the offense struggling against an opponent who seemingly didn't make any poor throws, it was enough to send the Halos home with two straight losses.
The Angels dropped to four games back in the race for the final Wild Card spot. But with 34 games left on the schedule, there's still plenty of time to gain ground.
"We're seeing flashes of when we came out of it the first time. Win some games, couple heartbreaking losses, win some more games, back and forth," said Iannetta, referring to the Angels beginning the season 18-25 before finishing the first half 10 games over .500. "Hopefully, that trend continues and we keep playing better and better."
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.