- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The Detroit Tigers entered this four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels just one game out of first place in the AL Central. Now they go home 3 1-2 games off the pace after getting swept.

Joba Chamberlain gave up a two-run infield single to Johnny Giavotella with the bases loaded in the eighth inning on his second pitch after a gritty 121-pitch effort by David Price, and the Tigers lost 4-2 on Sunday night.

Price (4-2) issued a leadoff walk to David Freese and gave up an infield single to Chris Iannetta, who was safe at first when third baseman Andrew Romine fielded his high chopper and pulled Miguel Cabrera off the bag with a hurried throw.

Kole Calhoun advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Price intentionally walked Grant Green before retiring pinch-hitter Carlos Perez on a popup.

“David probably would have told me he could keep going. He’s very capable of getting out of that situation, but I thought he was done at that point in the game after that last guy he faced. He did his job,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Joba comes in and there’s a weak ball that is off the end of the bat that is perfectly placed up the middle, and it costs us the game. It wasn’t a bad pitch.”

Price was charged with four runs, eight hits and four walks in 7 2-3 innings. He struck out six, after scattering five hits over seven innings in a 1-0 win at Oakland on Tuesday. Detroit had won 11 of the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner’s previous 12 starts, including his final two last season.

Joe Smith (2-2) got the victory with a perfect inning of relief, and Huston Street pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 17th save in 19 attempts, closing out the Angels’ first four-game sweep of the Tigers since April 1996 at the “Big A.”

“It’s frustrating. We’re not playing the way we’re capable of playing right now,” Price said. “Every team goes through it, and every team is going to feel this throughout 162 games. So you’ve just got to grind through it. We know we’re a better team. Everybody knows that.”

Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian, whose father Steve gave up seven grand slams during his major league career, retired cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes with the bags full to end the seventh. It was the third time in this series that Detroit left the bases loaded. Cespedes had one RBI in the series - on a solo home run against Jered Weaver.

“We’ve got to find a way to score runs. It’s as simple as that,” Ausmus said. “I still think that long-term, the offense will be fine. But with every passing day, it becomes more of an issue. We’re going to have to figure it out, because we’re a better offense than this.”

The Angels, who outscored the Tigers 26-10 in the series, didn’t get a hit until Freese and Iannetta singled with two outs in the fourth. They were stranded when Price retired Calhoun on a foul pop, but the Angels grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fifth with one-out RBI singles by Erick Aybar and AL MVP Mike Trout.

The Tigers, whose first run came on rookie James McCann’s sacrifice fly in the second inning, tied it in the sixth with an unearned run against Matt Shoemaker. Cabrera singled with one out, advanced on a passed ball by Iannetta and scored when Giavotella fielded a hard-hit grounder by Cespedes to the right of second base and threw the ball just beyond the reach of Green at first for his fifth error of the season.

Giavotella’s first chance to redeem himself for that error came in the bottom of the sixth, but Price snared his scorching line drive with runners on first and second to end the threat. Giavotella got another chance, and didn’t waste it.

“Any player loves to be out there when the game is on the line,” Giavotella said. “My team does a great job of putting me in those situations. They have a lot of faith and confidence in me. It was a great feeling, coming through like that for the team and completing the sweep.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander, sidelined because of a triceps strain that occurred in a spring training start March 27, made his first rehab start for Triple-A Toledo at Indianapolis and allowed three runs and six hits over 2 2-3 innings. The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner threw 50 of his 79 pitches for strikes, fanning three and walking two.

UP NEXT

Tigers: RHP Alfredo Simon (5-2) matches up against Oakland’s Kendall Graveman on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Comerica Park. Simon is 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in his last five starts after going 4-0 with 1.65 ERA in his first four.

Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (4-3) opposes Tampa Bay’s Alex Colome on Monday night when the teams begin a three-game set in Anaheim.

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