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Tigers Head West To Take On Angels

(Sports Network) - Charlie Furbush will make his first career start tonight, when the Detroit Tigers open a seven-game road trip with the first of three consecutive contests against the LA Angels of Anaheim.

Furbush gets the starting nod after Phil Coke was moved to the bullpen and is 1-1 with a 2.49 earned run average in 12 relief appearances this season. He lasted two scoreless innings in last Tuesday's 14-3 loss to the New York Mets. The lefty will have a new pitching coach to report to, as Rick Knapp was relieved of his duties on Sunday and bullpen coach Jeff Jones took over.

The Tigers salvaged the finale of a three-game series versus San Francisco over the weekend with Sunday's 6-3 win behind seven solid outings from starter Rick Porcello. Porcello yielded three runs over seven innings and struck out six batters. Joaquin Benoit tossed a scoreless eighth inning and Jose Valverde notched his 20th save in the ninth.

"I thought his stuff was much more crisp," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Porcello. "I thought the ball was exploding a little bit late into the strike zone at the plate, at the right time. I thought he was much, much better today."

Brennan Boesch homered and both Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge drove in two runs apiece for the Tigers, who have won five of nine games and sit just a half-game behind Cleveland for the AL Central lead.

The Tigers will also visit Kansas City for four games on the trek.

Meanwhile, the AL West-leading Angels will resume a 13-game homestand Monday and are 5-1 so far on the residency after disposing of both the Nationals and Dodgers. They are coming off Sunday's 3-1 win over Los Angeles in which Russell Branyan highlighted a three-run seventh inning with a two-run homer.

"That one felt good," Branyan said. "I got a pitch I could drive. I just tried to take a nice, easy swing. It was good to be in that situation and come through."

Ervin Santana collected the win by holding the Dodgers to a run on six hits with eight strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings of work. Scott Downs and Jordan Walden went the rest of the way, with Walden posting his 19th save.

The Halos, who are tied with Texas atop the division standings with Seattle just 2 1/2 games off the pace, will also host the Mariners for four games at the end of the week.

Taking the mound for Anaheim tonight will be Joel Pineiro. Pineiro is 1-3 with a 5.17 ERA in his last nine starts, but the Angels have won the right-hander's last four trips to the hill. In an 11-5 victory versus Washington last Tuesday, Pineiro allowed four runs -- three earned -- in 5 2/3 innings for the no-decision and struck out just two batters.

Pineiro is only 1-2 in six home starts this season, but owns a 7-3 mark to go along with a 3.33 ERA in 13 career games (11 starts) against Detroit. He hopes to get at least four runs of support tonight since the Angels have won 17 in a row when producing four or more runs this season.

Angels All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter could return Monday from a left-hand contusion he suffered on Friday after he was hit by a pitch from Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda. Hunter did not play Saturday and replaced Bobby Abreu in right field to begin the eighth inning of Sunday's game.

Detroit took six of 10 meetings with Anaheim a season ago and is 10-5 in the past 15 matchups between the two teams.