Tigers 7, A's 3: Fielder, Hunter, Peralta homer, bullpen holds on late

Thearon W. Henderson

New game, same Tigers game script. All nine starters reached base as part of a three home run barrage, Justin Verlander allowed just one run in six innings, and the ever-so-shaky bullpen continued to scare the Hell out of everyone in the late innings.

The Detroit Tigers shook off Friday night's walk-off loss behind six innings of Justin Verlander and three home runs, beating the Oakland A's 7-3.

Verlander (2-1) allowed just one run while striking out six, earning the victory and ending the A's nine game winning streak. Brett Anderson (2-1) took the loss for the A's, giving up seven runs and eight hits, three of those home runs, in 5 2/3 innings.

Torii Hunter (1), Prince Fielder (4), and Jhonny Peralta (1) went deep for the Tigers on a day where all nine starters reached base. Josh Donaldson, Chris Young and Seth Smith each had two hits for the A's.

Going into today's game, the Tigers' starting rotation had posted a 3.38 ERA compared to the bullpen's league-worst 5.91. The season-long trend continued today. Starter good, bullpen ... not so much.

The Tigers threatened against Anderson in the 1st, but couldn't convert.

After A's shortstop Andy Parrino out-and-out robbed Torii Hunter of a base hit, Miguel Cabrera worked a two-out walk. With Cabrera running on the pitch, a white hot Prince Fielder singled him to third. But Victor Martinez flew out to end the threat.

Verlander allowed only one hard-hit ball in the bottom half of the second inning, but it was enough to give the A's a 1-0 lead.

One down, Smith looped a single to center. Last night's hero, Donaldson, did the same, lifting a single to short center. With two down, Derek Norris ripped a line single off the glove of a diving Cabrera, Smith scoring from second base.

Matt Tuiasosopo made a Little League mistake on the play, throwing to 3rd and not splitting the runners, allowing Norris to take second. Verlander was able to pitch past the mistake in fundamentals, Parrino out at first on a swinging bunt.

Hunter, a one-man gang and all-around force of nature, tied the game at 1-all in the third with a loooong home run. Brett Anderson hung a breaking ball, which Hunter deposited just short of the second deck at the O.co. (MLB.com video)

Fielder continued his assault on A's pitching in the fourth, hitting his second home run of the series (MLB.com video). The lead-off solo shot, a no-doubter to right center, set A's fans off on a booing spree and gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

The home run barrage continued, the Tigers tacking on three more runs in the inning after Fielder went yard. Martinez singled, Tuiasosopo worked a base on balls, setting the table for ... Jhonny Peralta? Yes, Jhonny Peralta.

One pitch after Anderson awkwardly slipped on the mound, Peralta drilled a fastball over the 362' mark in left center, the three-run bomb giving the Tigers a 5-1 lead (MLB.com video).

Given a four-run lead, Verlander immediately pitched himself into trouble with one out, walking Smith and Donaldson back-to-back. The ace would pitch out of the jam by striking out Eric Sogard and Norris (on a 96 MPH fastball), but elevated his pitch count to 79 in the process.

Back-to-back doubles off the bats of Brayan Pena and Austin Jackson pushed the Tigers' lead to 7-1 in the sixth. With Omar Infante on first base after forcing Tuiasosopo, Pena's fly ball found the gap in right-center, rolling to the wall for an RBI double, sending Anderson to the showers. Right-hander Pat Neshek was called out of the pen to face Jackson. First-pitch swinging, Jackson ripped a double off the left field wall, Pena jogging home to make it 7-1 Tigers.

Al Alburquerque and Phil Coke were warming up as Verlander, his pitch count pushing 100, started the bottom of the sixth. They wouldn't be needed until the seventh. Verlander issued his third walk, but ended the frame at 111 pitches when Donaldson bounced into a 5-4 fielder's choice.

Verlander received the "Handshake of Doom" from the skipper at the end of the sixth, so Alburquerque (with the odd combination of a 0.00 ERA and 1.80 WHIP) was given the ball to start the seventh. Living dangerously, as he has all season, Alburquerque walked the first batter he faced, Sogard. Norris doubled into the left field corner, danger level increasing exponentially.

Alburquerque looked like he might pitch out of the jam of his own doing, striking out Parrino and John Jaso. But he left a pitch up to Chris Young, who yanked it into the left field corner for a two-RBI double, pulling the A's to within four runs at 7-3.

Jim Leyland pulled Alburquerque in order to get the lefty-lefty matchup (and the fact he had just allowed two runs) with Captain Caveman Joe Buck Johnny Damon Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer Josh Reddick, calling on Coke to pitch. Coke did his job, Reddick grounding out on a 3-2 pitch to keep the Tigers' lead at four.

Coke struck out Brandon Moss to start the eighth. But once Smith reached for the fourth time on a bloop single, Leyland went back to the pen. Despite wanting him to be his 9th inning guy, Leyland called on Joaquin Benoit to get the last two outs of the eighth.

Donaldson greeted Benoit with a single. After Sogard flew out to deep center for the second out, Benoit walked Norris on four pitches, loading the bases for pinch hitter Jed Lowrie.

Lowrie worked the count to 2-2, but Benoit caught him looking with an inside breaking ball to end a stress-filled eighth, the Tigers still leading 7-3.

Facing righty Evan Scribner, the Tigers went down in order in the ninth.

With Rick Porcello warming up in the pen, Benoit remained on the mound to start the ninth. He walked the lead-off man, Jaso, on four pitches. Bearing down, Benoit struck out Young.

Jaso took second on defensive indifference while Benoit struck out the Billy Gibbons Dusty Hill Reddick for the second out.

Benoit nailed down the victory, striking out Moss with high heat.

One word. WHEW.

Once again, the Tigers prove their resilience, bouncing back from a walk-off loss in the wee hours of Saturday morning. The Tigers move back over the .500 mark at 6-5. The A's winning streak finally comes to an end, their record dropping to 9-3.

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