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Published: Sunday, 4/17/2011

Braden, Oakland bullpen combine to shut down Tigers

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Athletics second baseman Andy LaRoche, left, prepares his double play throw to first over Detroit's Brennan Boesch. Athletics second baseman Andy LaRoche, left, prepares his double play throw to first over Detroit's Brennan Boesch.
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OAKLAND — Dallas Braden allowed an unearned run in five innings before leaving with stiffness in his pitching shoulder, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Saturday night for their second home win this season.

David DeJesus and Hideki Matsui had two hits apiece as Oakland knocked around Detroit ace Justin Verlander (1-2) with five doubles.

The Athletics, who committed their major league-leading 17th error, dropped the first two games on this homestand and were 1-4 at the Coliseum before ending Detroit’s four-game winning streak.

Victor Martinez doubled and singled for the Tigers.

Braden, who pitched a perfect game on Mother’s Day in 2010, wasn’t as crisp as he has been this season and had to pitch out of jams in the second and fourth.

Coming off six sharp innings against the Chicago White Sox on Monday, Braden (1-1) struck out five and walked two. He left when his shoulder tightened up after only 67 pitches.

The A’s relievers had come under scrutiny after failing to support strong outings by starters Gio Gonzalez and Brandon McCarthy in the first two games of this four-game series. This time, the bullpen didn’t give in.

Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow, Grant Balfour, and Brian Fuentes pitched one inning apiece to complete the six-hitter.

Oakland needed the strong outing to help overcome a throwing error by first baseman Daric Barton that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Miguel Cabrera led off the second with a walk and moved to third on Martinez’s double. Braden struck out Jhonny Peralta, then got Brennan Boesch to hit a grounder to first. Barton fielded the ball cleanly but bypassed the easy out at first and instead threw wildly toward home, allowing Cabrera to score.

It was the A’s eighth error in their past five games.

Fortunately for Oakland, the offense got to Verlander in the fourth.

DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and Matsui hit consecutive doubles to open the inning and give the A’s a 2-1 lead. Kurt Suzuki followed with a single and when left fielder Ryan Raburn bobbled the ball for an error, Matsui raced around third to score.

The game took a quirky turn in the bottom of the fifth.

Verlander walked Barton, then was on the mound when he suddenly jumped off the rubber and fired the ball at DeJesus, who was in the batter’s box. The ball appeared to hit DeJesus in the foot and he was initially awarded first base while Barton moved to second.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland came out to question the call, and after the four umpires conferred, the play was ruled a balk. DeJesus was sent back to the box and Barton remained at second.

Verlander retired the next three hitters to get out of the jam but was gone an inning later, after an RBI double by Coco Crisp. The right-hander allowed eight hits and four runs — three earned — in six innings, finishing with six strikeouts.

Oakland scored a pair of insurance runs in the eighth off reliever Enrique Gonzalez. Ryan Sweeney hit a pinch-hit triple to drive in Suzuki, then later scored on Kevin Kouzmanoff’s sacrifice fly.

The Tigers couldn’t get anything off the A’s relievers until the ninth. Peralta singled and Boesch followed with a walk. Fuentes relieved Balfour and later gave up a walk to load the bases but pitched out of the jam to preserve the win.

Designated hitter Magglio Ordonez went 1 for 4 in his return to Detroit’s lineup. Ordonez had been out since Monday with a tight Achilles’ in his right foot.

NOTES: The Tigers have doubled in all 15 games this year, the franchise’s longest streak to start a season since at least 1919. ... Verlander needs eight strikeouts to reach 1,000 for his career. ... Leyland said he plans to give 3B Brandon Inge the day off Sunday. ... The seven runs scored by Detroit in the 10th inning Friday were the most the Tigers have scored in extra innings since 1991. ... Barton’s error was his fifth this year. The first baseman had 10 total in 2010. ... Oakland had not hit three consecutive doubles in one inning since Sept. 5, 2009, against Seattle. ... A’s RHP Michael Wuertz got knocked around during a rehab assignment with Class-A Stockton. Wuertz, on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, started and gave up three runs and four hits in one inning.



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