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RECAP
10/10/2012 3:26 AM EDT
Anderson pitches A's past Tigers to avoid sweep
OAKLAND 2, DETROIT 0

By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Coco Crisp saved a likely home run, and
Oakland's season for at least one more game.



If the center fielder had any lingering frustration about that
two-run error that dearly cost Oakland in Game 2, this might
have erased it.



Crisp made a spectacular leaping catch at the top of the
center-field wall to rob Prince Fielder, and that was just one
in a handful of defensive gems by the Athletics to back Brett
Anderson in a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday
night.



The A's cut their deficit in the best-of-five AL division series
to 2-1.



Anderson outdueled fellow postseason first-timer Anibal Sanchez
and the upstart A's showed off stellar defense all over the
diamond to avoid another playoff sweep by Detroit.



"Robbed home runs are good," Anderson posted on Twitter late
Tuesday.



"You see him hit it and you just kind of put your head down a
little bit because you think you just gave up a homer," Anderson
said. "Then you see him plow through there and catch the ball
and it kind of kick starts you to go out there and make
pitches."



Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI single in the first inning and Seth
Smith homered in the fifth. That was plenty on a night Triple
Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Fielder and the Tigers' high-priced
offense were shut down by the low-budget A's.



Tigers 16-game winner Max Scherzer will try to close out the
series in Game 4 Wednesday night against A's rookie A.J.
Griffin. Detroit swept the A's in the 2006 AL championship
series.



Fielder was the biggest victim of Oakland's spot-on defense,
robbed three times. First by Crisp, Oakland's most experienced
player whose blunder on Cabrera's fly allowed two runs to score
in a 5-4 loss Sunday in Detroit.



"Not to be all over-confident or anything, I think I'm going to
catch everything out there," Crisp said. "Obviously it doesn't
happen that way - duh Detroit, right?"



Crisp let out a big "Whoo!" after raising his arm to signal he'd
made the grab.



"I thought I had a hit," Fielder offered afterward.



"Coco's catch, the ball was out of the ballpark and it came
back," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The key to that play
was he was playing deep and that enabled him to get into a spot
to get up and make the catch. And it was a great catch, no doubt
about it."



A's shortstop Stephen Drew made a tough play running to his left
to stop Fielder's grounder in the fourth and then threw to first
while still off balance and in motion.



Then, in the seventh, Cespedes cut over to make a diving catch
on Fielder's liner to left field.



That delighted the yellow towel-waving sellout crowd of 37,090
in this blue-collar city.



"It's frustrating. But it's a good team you're playing," Fielder
said. "They're going to make those plays, that's why they're
here."



After Cabrera singled with one out in the ninth, Fielder
grounded into a game-ending double play. Fielder is now batting
.172 (11 for 64) in his postseason career - .083 (1 for 12) this
year.



The A's own the lowest payroll in baseball at $59.5 million.
Fielder is getting big money in Motown: $214 million over nine
years.



Anderson, back on the mound for the first time since straining a
muscle in his right side Sept. 19 at Detroit, worked quickly and
showed no signs of a layoff or jitters in his first postseason
start.



That's just not the way the A's have operated this year.



Last week, Oakland entered its final three-game series of the
regular season needing to sweep the two-time reigning AL
champion Rangers to capture the AL West - and the A's did it,
sending a stunned Texas team to the one-game wild card, which it
lost to Baltimore.



A club with a majors-best 14 walkoff wins and countless whipped
cream pie celebrations snapped the longest postseason skid in
franchise history at six games, all losses to Detroit.



The Tigers are trying to reach a second straight AL championship
series after losing last year's ALCS in six games to the
Rangers.



Detroit captured the AL Central in Oakland last year and is
hoping for another clinching party as soon as possible.



Anderson did his job to delay it.



He insisted he was healthy and ready to go - and manager Bob
Melvin took his pitcher at his word and gave him a shot in his
biggest start yet. Anderson had shown plenty when he returned in
August following a 14-month absence recovering from
elbow-ligament replacement surgery and made six impressive
starts.



Not feeling quite 100 percent, he allowed two hits, struck out
six and walked two in six innings. He was on a pitch count of 80
and was done at exactly that, though was never told about it
beforehand.



"I don't know how you could expect more than we got out of him
tonight," Melvin said.



Next, the reliable bullpen took over.



Ryan Cook pitched the seventh, Sean Doolittle struck out the
side in order in the eighth and closer Grant Balfour finished
the four-hitter for a save. The A's staff pitched the 11th
postseason shutout by the franchise, while the Tigers were
blanked for the 13th time in the postseason.



The A's had lost five straight while facing elimination in the
postseason, one shy of the longest active streak by the Twins.



But this group has defied expectations ever since the first full
workout at spring training back in February when the A's lost
third baseman Scott Sizemore to a season-ending knee injury.
Opening day starter Brandon McCarthy took a line drive to the
head Sept. 5 and needed brain surgery. Starter Bartolo Colon was
suspended for 50 games in August for a positive testosterone
test.



Oakland became the first team in major league history to win the
division or pennant after trailing by five or more games with
fewer than 10 to go. The A's were five back of the Rangers with
nine left, then won their final six, all at home with sweeps of
Seattle and Texas.



Smith hit a towering drive to the deepest part of center field
in the fifth for yet another timely home run for the A's, whose
112 homers after the All-Star break led the majors.



"That's how you win postseason baseball games, with pitching and
defense and timely hitting," Smith said. "We had that. We got
two runs and that's all we needed. Anderson was great and our
defense was, too."



Sanchez gave up five hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings, struck
out three and walked two.



NOTES: Smith hit his first postseason homer and third lifetime
against Sanchez in 15 at-bats. ... At 24 years, 251 days,
Anderson became the fifth-youngest pitcher in Oakland history to
make his first career postseason start. ... Both Bay Area teams
avoided elimination after the NL West champion San Francisco
Giants won at Cincinnati earlier in the night. ... Oakland sold
out for the eighth time this year and second straight - the
regular-season finale vs. Texas drew 36,067 - including 1,000
standing-room only tickets and extra suite sales. It was the
biggest crowd at the Coliseum since drawing 43,974 against the
Yankees on Sept. 4, 2005, before the upper decks were tarped.

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