Page last updated on Wed Aug 31 04:04:17 EDT 2016
10/08/2012 4:30 AM EDT
Tigers score in 9th, beat A's 5-4 for 2-0 lead
DETROIT 5, OAKLAND 4
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) -- Don Kelly is on Detroit's postseason roster
because he can play any position in the field, so it was with
some irony that he stood at the plate - as the designated hitter
- with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Kelly hit .186 during the regular season, but all the Tigers
needed was a flyball.
"We need everybody here, all 25," Triple Crown winner Miguel
Cabrera said. "It's not only about one guy. I think when
everybody's got a job, they have to try to do it."
Kelly's sacrifice fly lifted the Tigers over the Oakland
Athletics 5-4 Sunday for a 2-0 lead in their AL playoff series.
Kelly entered the game as a pinch runner an inning earlier and
scored the tying run on wild pitch. He stayed in the game in the
DH slot, and with Detroit almost out of position players, Kelly
delivered to put the Tigers one win closer to a second straight
trip to the AL championship series.
"Was looking for a fastball and I got it," Kelly said. "It's a
great feeling, to be able to go out there in that situation and
Detroit overcame three A's leads and seesawed to victory. It was
1-all before a wild final three innings that included a key
error by Oakland center fielder Coco Crisp, two game-tying wild
pitches and several momentum changes.
Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque kept it tied in the ninth when
he got Yoenis Cespedes to hit a comebacker with men on first and
third and two outs. He gave the ball a little kiss before
throwing underhand to first.
Omar Infante and Cabrera hit back-to-back singles off Grant
Balfour with one out in the bottom half. With runners on first
and third, Prince Fielder was intentionally walked, bringing up
Kelly, who was designated for assignment in early August but
returned to the Tigers less than a month later.
"He's one of the best guys in the clubhouse. We all love him,"
Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer said. "For him, a utility guy, to
get a hit like that, it's great."
Kelly's fly to right was plenty deep enough to score Infante
without a play at the plate. It was Kelly's first RBI since June
and another big playoff moment for him - his home run last year
helped the Tigers beat the New York Yankees in the decisive
fifth game of the division series.
On Sunday, Kelly became the first player to score a run and have
an RBI in a postseason game with no official at-bats since
Baltimore's Gary Roenicke in Game 3 of the 1983 ALCS, according
to STATS, LLC.
Detroit will go for a sweep of the division series matchup in
Game 3 on Tuesday at Oakland. The Tigers lost to Texas in the
ALCS last year.
The A's were left to lament a poor performance by their bullpen
and some crucial mistakes in the late innings that allowed this
game to slip away.
Cliff Pennington gave the A's the lead with an RBI single in the
seventh, but Crisp dropped Cabrera's two-out flyball in the
bottom half, allowing two runs to score.
Oakland tied it in the eighth on a wild pitch by Joaquin Benoit,
and Josh Reddick followed with a solo homer to give the A's a
4-3 lead. Then it was Ryan Cook's turn to throw a tying wild
pitch, allowing Kelly to score.
Pennington nearly came through again for Oakland in the ninth,
but his deep drive down the left-field line was just foul.
"It was certainly a good game for the fans," A's manager Bob
Melvin said. "Both teams played hard. Both teams got big hits
and did good things at the right moments, and both teams did
some - made some mistakes that got the other team in the game."
Alburquerque missed most of the season after offseason surgery
on his throwing elbow. He came on to face Cespedes with the
Tigers in a jam, and that one out was enough to earn him the
The right-hander said he wasn't trying to show up the A's when
he gave the ball a smooch.
"I just did it," he said. "It was the emotion of the game. I
wasn't trying to be a hot dog."
Reddick wasn't amused.
"We didn't appreciate that. I thought it was immature and not
very professional," Reddick said. "You don't do that on the
field. Save it for the dugout. That's all I'm going to say."
The A's have taken the lead four times in this series, but on
each occasion they failed to hold it through the bottom half of
Doug Fister allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings for
Detroit, striking out eight. Rookie Tommy Milone was impressive
for the A's, allowing a run and five hits in six innings. He
struck out six.
Fister gave the A's trouble early with his slow, sweeping
breaking ball, but Oakland hit four singles in the third.
Crisp's slow roller to third turned into an infield hit when
Cabrera threw wide to first. Stephen Drew struck out looking -
and had words for plate umpire Mark Wegner - but Cespedes
followed with a run-scoring single.
Oakland nearly scored again on a single to right by Brandon
Moss, but rookie Avisail Garcia threw Crisp out at home.
Cabrera hit a one-out double in the bottom of the third. He went
to third on a single by Fielder and scored on a dribbler by
Delmon Young that was too slow to be a double play.
NOTES: Balfour was charged with the loss. ... Oakland has struck
out 23 times in the first two games. ... Benoit allowed 14
homers during the regular season, easily his most since 2004,
when he spent some time as a starter. ... The A's are hoping LHP
Brett Anderson is healthy enough to start Game 3 against Anibal
Sanchez. Anderson missed the last couple weeks of the regular
season because of a strained right oblique.
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