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Tigers rough up Tyler Skaggs and Angels 9-3

This was not a statement game, not for the Angels, who lost 9-3.

Instead, what Tyler Skaggs said — and what he didn't say — was the dual message salvaged on a day when the Angels otherwise wilted in the 90-plus-degree heat of downtown Detroit.

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"I do appreciate my catcher standing up for me," Skaggs said. "I thought that was great."

Martin Maldonado stood up for Skaggs by going down, ejected in the seventh inning by umpire Mark Ripperger for arguing a called third strike.

Moments later, manager Mike Scioscia also was tossed, their days ending early as this team ground through nine innings and 3 hours 17 minutes of sweaty frustration.

What Skaggs didn't say was anything specifically about Ripperger, whose strike zone, the Angels believed, changed on the final pitch to Maldonado.

"I got no comment on that," Skaggs said. "I'm just happy my team had my back today."

So, while losing for the third time in four games, perhaps the Angels won additional admiration for one another, which doesn't help them now in the standings but could help them later.

The situation flared after Maldonado took a low fastball from reliever Louis Coleman. At least Maldonado thought it was low, as low as several pitches he said Ripperger ruled to be balls, for both teams, throughout the afternoon.

"He hadn't called that pitch all game," Maldonado said. "I was talking to him back and forth all game."

After a spirited exchange, the Angels catcher moved toward the dugout and had his back to Ripperger as he was ejected. Maldonado said he didn't realize he had been thrown out until Scioscia charged from the dugout to protest.

"It surprised me a little bit," said Maldonado, who was ejected for the first time in 532 games. "I already said what I was going to say."

Scioscia, in his 19th season, is a little more experienced in such matters, the ejection being his 45th as a manager.

He wasn't appreciative of the way Ripperger dispatched his Gold Glove catcher.

"I think it's unwarranted," Scioscia said. "When a guy's heading back to the dugout just let him go back to the dugout. That wasn't needed."

The game essentially was decided when Skaggs (3-4) gave up a third-inning grand slam to James McCann, a development the left-hander called "the nail in the coffin."

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But the Angels weren't done squirming until they struggled offensively for another extended stretch.

Through five innings, they produced two singles against Matthew Boyd (3-4), whom Maldonado called "a little sneaky."

After Justin Upton led off the sixth inning with a walk, the Tigers lifted Boyd in favor of Coleman, a former Dodgers right-hander. He responded by getting three outs on four pitches.

The Angels couldn't score in the seventh, either, after getting two runners on with two outs, Zack Cozart grounding into a fielder's choice to end the threat.

By the time they did score, in the eighth on consecutive run-scoring doubles by Albert Pujols and Andrelton Simmons and in the ninth on Mike Trout's 18th home run, the Tigers had effectively run away and hid.

The final true indignation for the Angels came in the seventh when Leonys Martin homered against Akeel Morris on a play that went unchanged upon replay review.

As the ball descended near the railing, right fielder Kole Calhoun tracked its flight until a young fan, reaching out toward the field, caught it.

The kid was wearing a Tigers T-shirt and an Angels cap, meaning he's either a big fan or he remains undecided on whether he should root for one team or the other.

Given the Angels' recent offensive shortcomings, it would be fitting if he was just another opportunity they couldn't seize.

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