DETROIT — The Oakland Athletics have beaten Detroit with both pitching and power. And that’s left the Tigers on the brink of elimination — and simmering with frustration.
Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith homered for the Athletics, who chased Anibal Sanchez in the fifth inning Monday and defeated the Tigers 6-3 for a 2-1 AL Division Series lead.
Moss broke a 3-all tie in the fifth with a solo shot, and Smith’s two-run drive later in the inning ended Sanchez’s day. It was an impressive offensive show after the teams split two taut, low-scoring games in Oakland.
This one got a little tense in the ninth, too, when A’s closer Grant Balfour and Detroit hitter Victor Martinez started shouting at each other after a foul ball, causing benches and bullpens to empty.
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“I don’t know what happened. Honestly, I know that Balfour is fiery on the mound — he’s yelling a lot and spitting everywhere,” Moss said. “It’s who he is. You know, sometimes it can ruffle the feathers of other teams.”
The A’s aren’t worried about making friends, especially after losing to the Tigers in a five-game division series last year. Oakland can close out this series Tuesday and reach the AL Championship Series for the first time since 2006 — when the Athletics were swept by the Tigers.
Oakland will send rookie Dan Straily to the mound against Detroit’s Doug Fister.
Sanchez, the American League’s earned-run average leader, allowed six runs — five earned — and eight hits in 41
3 innings. Smith has homered off Sanchez more than any other player, having now done it twice in the regular season and twice in the playoffs.
Balfour pitched a hitless ninth for the save. Martinez had just hit a foul ball when he started looking back at Balfour, who yelled something at the designated hitter.
Martinez started slowly toward the mound, and players from both teams came running out. The situation eventually calmed and no players were ejected. Plate umpire Gary Darling said warnings were sufficient.
“I said, ‘Why you staring me down like that?’ ” Balfour said. “He was staring me down. He knew what he was doing.”
Martinez said Balfour threw in a profanity when he yelled toward the plate.
“I’m not a rookie. I’m a veteran, and I’m a leader on my teams. I don’t take that,” Martinez said. “He can’t intimidate me.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays are still afloat in the AL Division Series.
Jose Lobaton hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning into the giant fish tank beyond the center-field wall, and Tampa Bay staved off elimination once again by beating the Boston Red Sox 5-4.
The Rays cut Boston’s lead in the best-of-five series to 2-1. Game 4 is Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, with Jake Peavy starting for the Red Sox against Jeremy Hellickson.
Tampa Bay took a win-or-go-home game for the fourth time in nine days. The Rays did it with an unlikely stroke as Lobaton, who came off the bench late in the game, connected against Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s something you can’t explain,” Lobaton said. “We never give up. We’re going to keep fighting.”
Back home after two weeks on the road, the Rays gave a sellout crowd of 33,675 little to cheer until Evan Longoria homered on his 28th birthday. Longoria’s three-run shot off Clay Buchholz with two outs in the fifth rallied Tampa Bay to a 3-all tie.
Pinch-hitter Delmon Young put the Rays ahead 4-3 with an RBI grounder in the eighth.
The Red Sox tied it in the ninth against Rays closer Fernando Rodney. Dustin Pedroia’s RBI grounder made it 4-all.