OAKLAND - Bobby Crosby barreled over catcher Vance Wilson for the winning run in the 10th inning, and just like that the Oakland Athletics had their second straight victory against the team with the best record in baseball.
Not a bad lift for a club that got swept by the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks just last weekend.
Jay Payton lined a single to right with two outs in the 10th inning to score the charging Crosby and lead the A's past the Detroit Tigers 2-1 yesterday.
"It's big for us," said Crosby, who hadn't run over a catcher that way since playing in a summer league during high school. "It's big for our confidence."
Fernando Rodney (4-3) walked Crosby with one out, struck out Eric Chavez and then walked Frank Thomas to bring up Payton, who finished with two RBIs a day after hitting his 100th career home run.
Crosby hesitated briefly before taking off for home and getting there just in time.
"I can't tell players how to go out there and play like Crosby plays," A's manager Ken Macha said. "I thought he was going to make it without running the guy over.
"But the guy was pretty much standing right in front of the plate so he basically had no choice."
The A's, winners of nine of their last 10 one-run games, snapped a three-game losing streak with Monday night's 5-3 win then beat the first-place Tigers again in the middle game of the series.
"I never had a chance to get the ball," Wilson said of the final play. "That was a great piece of hitting. He got the job done."
Oakland's Ron Flores, who earned his first major league win with four innings of relief in a 14-inning victory Thursday at San Diego, walked Carlos Guillen to start the 10th. Chad Gaudin (1-2) relieved and Guillen stole his 11th base before Gaudin got two flyouts to right and a groundout.
Payton also had an RBI single in the first for a 1-0 A's lead, and 11 of his 16 RBIs since June 13 have either tied the game or put the A's ahead.
"The last couple of weeks, he's just carried us," Crosby said.
Oakland had other chances but couldn't capitalize. Dan Johnson and Jason Kendall hit consecutive two-out singles in the ninth against Joel Zumaya, who then got Mark Ellis to pop out.
Detroit, on a nine-game road trip leading into the All-Star break that concludes with a three-game weekend series in Seattle, lost for third time in four games and will try to avoid a three-game sweep today.
"We got beat in a tough ballgame, and it's going to happen again," manager Jim Leyland said. "We didn't get the big hit. They did. I'm very encouraged about the ability of this team. This team will meet challenges."
Wilson hit a solo homer to right with two outs in the fifth to tie the game for the Tigers, his fourth of the year. Dan Haren followed by retiring the final seven Detroit hitters he faced.
Haren pitched seven strong innings for the A's but didn't get enough offense and saw his winless stretch reach four starts since he beat Seattle on June 14. He has three straight no-decisions.
Haren allowed four hits and one run, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter for the fifth time this season.
Tigers starter Justin Verlander pitched well again but received a no-decision after winning his previous three outings. He gave up one run and three hits in seven innings.
Verlander got the A's in 0-2 counts six times.
"I was a little off kilter coming out of the bullpen," said Verlander, who made his major league debut on July 4 last year. "Those close games are fun. It's a challenge and it shows what you have inside.
"We'll forget these last two days. We're a resilient team."
Mark Kotsay singled to left leading off the first for the A's to snap a career-high 0-for-29 slump, then singled again in the eighth.
After Chavez singled in the third, Verlander retired the next 11 batters he faced before Johnson drew a one-out walk in the seventh.
ATHLETICS 5, TIGERS 3
Jay Payton hit his 100th career homer, a three-run shot in the sixth, and Joe Blanton pitched seven strong innings to help Oakland end a three-game losing streak with a victory over Detroit.
Blanton (8-7) won for the third time in four decisions. He gave up three runs and nine hits, striking out one and did not walk a batter. He retired 10 in a row at one point.
Justin Duchscherer pitched the eighth and Huston Street recorded his 19th save with a scoreless ninth.
Nate Robertson (8-4) took just his second loss since April 17. He allowed five runs and seven hits over seven innings, walking four and striking out three. He was the first Tigers starter to get a loss in a span of 24 games.