Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco hit back-to-back triples in the seventh inning, with Polanco driving in the go-ahead run in the Tigers' 5-3 victory over the slumping Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
With almost none of his usual control, movement or velocity, Washburn (9-7) yielded eight hits over six resilient innings. The left-hander still won for the first time since joining Detroit in a trade with Seattle, and Washburn praised the advantages of pitching for a first-place team at the top of its game.
"My command wasn't good, my stuff wasn't good, but we gutted it out and we won," said Washburn, who went 0-1 in his first four starts for Detroit. "I just had to throw it down the middle and see what happens, but these guys backed me up. When you play a complete game like that, it feels good."
Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in two runs in another three-hit game for the Tigers, who boosted their AL Central lead over Minnesota and Chicago to 4½ games with their second straight win at Angel Stadium.
Los Angeles rallied in each of the last three innings after Washburn's departure, but couldn't score. Reliever Zach Miner tagged out Bobby Abreu at home plate to end the seventh, and Clete Thomas leaped at the right field wall to rob pinch-hitter Kendry Morales of an extra-base hit to end the eighth.
Closer Fernando Rodney then allowed two runners to open the ninth, but got three quick outs for his 28th save in 29 chances.
"You can't play much better defensively than we did," manager Jim Leyland said. "We just made play after play. ... There's a lot of excitement in the dugout, a lot of tension. It's what you get paid to do. If my heart wasn't racing in the ninth inning tonight, I should go home."
Howie Kendrick hit a three-run homer for Los Angeles, which has lost five of six for just the second time this season. John Lackey (8-7) fell short of his 100th victory, yielding a season high-tying 11 hits in his third loss in four starts.
"There's obvious concern when you're losing games, no matter what time of year it is," Lackey said. "Obviously it gets a little magnified when it comes to August and September."
Juan Rivera and Erick Aybar singled to lead off the second before Kendrick brought them home with a shot to center, but Los Angeles' offense fizzled thereafter in its third straight loss. The Angels' AL West lead over Texas has dropped to four games.
"We were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, but we smoked four balls with guys in scoring position that might have changed the complexion of that game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But those guys played good defense, and we couldn't quite get back into it."
Detroit got a second straight monster game from Cabrera, who went 3 for 5 after driving in five runs in Monday's victory. Granderson and Cabrera tied it with solo homers in the fifth, with Cabrera's 27th traveling well over 400 feet to center.
Granderson led off the seventh with a triple to right after umpires conducted a lengthy video review to confirm their on-field ruling that the ball hadn't cleared the wall. Leyland agreed they made the correct call.
Polanco immediately followed with a triple to right, putting the Tigers up 4-3 and chasing Lackey. Polanco scored on Magglio Ordonez's fly.
Miner walked the bases loaded in the seventh before his pitch got away from rookie catcher Alex Avila, but Miner hustled to the plate to tag out Abreu.
"I think I was too aggressive on that play," Abreu said. "In that situation, you've got to make sure you're going to be safe. I thought the ball went a little farther away than it did and I took my chances, but I couldn't make it. I killed the rally. You never know what would have happened after that."
Umpire Tim Welke sat out after being hit in the facemask by a foul tip Monday night. Delfin Colon replaced him, and Mark Carlson took over as crew chief. Home plate umpire Chad Fairchild was hit by a foul off Chone Figgins' bat in the seventh, leaving him wincing in pain and forcing a brief stoppage. ... The Angels are the only major league team without four straight losses this season. ... The Angels optioned RHP Shane Loux to Triple-A Salt Lake after the game.