Galarraga flirts with no-hitter, helps Tigers to fourth win in five games

DETROIT (AP) -- Armando Galarraga took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday and didn't get a victory.

The Detroit Tigers didn't seem to mind.

The unheralded rookie tired in the seventh, but was still effective enough to help the Tigers to a 6-4 victory. Galarraga is only in Detroit because of the injury to Dontrelle Willis, but he's gone 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his three starts.

"I really didn't know what to expect from him when we had to bring him up, but he's been very good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "This is probably the best he's been yet. He was certainly good enough to win the game."

Galarraga ended up allowing three runs -- one earned -- on three hits and two walks in six-plus innings.

"I didn't think about a no-hitter -- that would have been crazy," he said. "I just felt really good after the first inning."

The 26-year-old had only made three major league appearances before this season, all last year with Texas, and never expected to be a part of the Tigers rotation in April.

"I thought I could make it up here, but I didn't think it would be this fast," he said. "I know I can do this, but it is a lot easier pitching with this offense and with Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate."

Galarraga's strong outing meant that Leyland got a rare chance to finish the game with his preferred bullpen duo, Denny Bautista in the eighth and Todd Jones in the ninth.

"The thing that has pleased me the most in the last couple days is that we've gotten good enough pitching that we haven't had to overuse our bullpen," Leyland said. "Today, we got to go with Bautista and Jones, which is what we've planned all along."

The Tigers might get even better news on Sunday. If Carlos Guillen can return from a bruised knee, they could put their top lineup on the field for the first time this season.

"We're getting close," Leyland said. "We'll manage either way."

Detroit went ahead in the first on Magglio Ordonez's RBI double, then increased the lead to 3-0 on Placido Polanco's two-run single in the fifth.

The Angels had loaded the bases in the first on two walks and an error, but didn't get a hit until Vladimir Guerrero's triple with two out in the sixth.

"He had a great slider, and he did his job," Torii Hunter said of Galarraga. "It was tough, because we had never seen him before."

Hunter bunted to start the seventh, and Galarraga fielded the hit but threw the ball into the stands for a two-base error, his only big mistake. Garret Anderson followed with a single, bringing Leyland out of the Tigers dugout.

Leyland left the rookie in, but Maicer Izturis chased him with a two-run double to left-center. Aquilino Lopez (2-0) then retired the next two hitters before Chone Figgins tied the game with a single to left.

"The one thing I found out is that when this kid loses it, he loses it in a hurry," Leyland said. "The biggest thing that hurt him was the fielding. He had Hunter by 10 or 15 feet, but he threw it away."

The Tigers, though, took back the lead in the bottom of the seventh off Los Angeles reliever Darren O'Day (0-1). Curtis Granderson tripled with one out, and the Angels intentionally walked Polanco. Gary Sheffield followed with a chopper over the mound, but Izturis's flip to second went into center field for an error that allowed Granderson to score.

"We had a couple bad breaks that cost us," said Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia. "You can't give that team any extra outs."

Ordonez followed with an RBI double to make it 5-3, and Jacque Jones brought home another run with a sacrifice fly.

Guerrero led off the eighth with a double -- his 2,000th career hit -- and scored when Hunter hit into a double play.

"He's got a lot more hits coming," Scioscia said. "This is a milestone, but it just validates what talent the man possesses."

Game notes
Willis, on the disabled list since April 12 with a knee injury, is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Tuesday and could make a rehab start as soon as Friday. ... Dustin Moseley got a no-decision for the Angels, allowing three runs on six hits in five innings. ... Guerrero is one of 10 active players with 2,000 hits and 300 homers. ... The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association presented Tigers utilityman Ryan Raburn with his 2007 Tigers Rookie of the Year award before the game, but the Comerica Park scoreboard congratulated "Ryan Rayburn."