OAKLAND - Jason Giambi and Jack Cust know if they both start hitting more consistently, it could do a lot for Oakland's chances heading into the second half.
Giambi and Cust broke out of funks with two-run homers, Dallas Braden ended a four-start winless stretch, and the Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers 5-1 yesterday.
"Hopefully we'll start to get hot," Giambi said. "Hopefully it's coming around. I've been kind of waiting."
So have the A's faithful, accustomed to Giambi's powerful stroke during his first stint with the franchise from 1995-01. He won the AL MVP in 2000 with a career-best 43 home runs, then left for the New York Yankees after the 2001 season.
Giambi's drive in the sixth off Justin Verlander (8-4) was home run No. 407, tying him with Duke Snider for 43rd place. The 38-year-old Giambi, who has been dealing with sore legs and entered the game with an American League-low .197 batting average, was in a 2-for-28 stretch before the homer after striking out in his first two at-bats.
Cust struck out in the second - his 80th of the year - before connecting with two outs in the fourth for his team-leading 14th homer. That put Oakland ahead 2-1. He had been 4-for-24 with 13 strikeouts in his previous seven games.
"It'd be big, obviously," Cust said of getting improved production from him and Giambi.
Gerald Laird hit an RBI double in the second for the AL Central-leading Tigers, who had won nine of 12 but were punchless in the series finale.
Braden (6-7) pitched seven strong innings to win for the first time in five starts since beating Baltimore on June 5.
"I thought we looked a little sluggish and a little tired," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We didn't do too much. Hopefully a day off will perk them up a bit."
Verlander allowed runners in all but two of his six innings. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed six hits and four runs, struck out six, and walked one.
Orlando Cabrera had two of those hits. He extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a first-inning single, then added another in the third.
Oakland bounced back with a winning series after a five-game losing streak that included getting swept at home by the Colorado Rockies last weekend.
"It's nice to see the hits come when we really needed them," Braden said.
"It's a great turnaround. This is the kind of baseball we know we can play."
The A's avoided falling 13 games under .500 for the first time this season. They won for only the second time in eight games and for just the fourth time in their last 12 games at the Coliseum. Oakland went 3-6 on this homestand.
Kurt Suzuki added an RBI double for Oakland in the eighth, and Travis Buck also had a double in his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Monday.
The Tigers are 15-6 against the AL West this season, including 4-2 versus the A's. The clubs face off again next month in Oakland for their last three meetings of 2009.
NOTES: Cust struck out again in the eighth, his 81st of the year. ... Giambi came in 1-for-16 against the Tigers this season. ... Cabrera hasn't walked during his hitting streak, the second-longest such stretch in Oakland history. ... Detroit is 20-8 in day games. ... Oakland manager Bob Geren plans to rest starting C Suzuki more regularly in the second half and give backup Landon Powell additional starts. ... Verlander was called for his third balk of the year, matching a career high. He has a 5.47 ERA over his last four starts.37.80507 -122.273 Jason Giambi and Jack Cust know if they both start hitting more consistently, it could do a lot for Oakland's chances heading into the second half.