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Detroit at Oakland

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Detroit0010030004150
Oakland «04300100x880

Athletics continue to sizzle, double up Tigers

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Early in the season, Rich Harden had no margin for mediocrity. The Oakland Athletics couldn't score for the right-hander, and even one bad pitch could be impossible to overcome.

With the A's rocketing up the standings these days, Harden has the freedom to pitch as terribly as he did Friday night. His bullpen and his batters easily kept Oakland on track for another win.

Mark Ellis hit a two-run homer and the A's overcame Harden's struggles for their ninth victory in 10 games, 8-4 over the Detroit Tigers.

Six A's drove in a run while building an early 7-1 lead against Sean Douglass (3-1), who couldn't escape the third inning in his first loss since joining the Tigers last month.

That support pleased Harden (9-4), who allowed a career-high 12 hits and four runs while laboring through 5 1/3 innings of poor pitch placement and bad breaks. In the third, he allowed his first earned run at home in a stretch of 24 innings since May 13.

"I got away with one today," said Harden, who recorded his fourth consecutive victory and seventh in eight starts since coming off the disabled list last month.

"I didn't have good stuff at all. That's probably the worst I've pitched since I've been here. It was overall just bad. ... The ball was basically right down the middle of the plate, every time."

But Ellis' third homer of the season capped a four-run second inning for the A's, who have raced to the top of the AL wild-card standings by going 29-7 over the last six weeks. Oakland has won 12 of 15 since the All-Star break, pulling within 3½ games of Los Angeles atop the AL West.

Starting with Eric Chavez's leadoff double in the second, 11 of 13 Oakland hitters either reached base or drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Rookie Dan Johnson finally chased Douglass with an RBI single in the third.

Oakland manager Ken Macha has become accustomed to his players' clutch hits and creative rallies.

"It's a team thing. In the beginning of the year, we had some great outings by our pitchers, and we didn't score any runs," he said. "Tonight, our offense picked him up. ... (Detroit) swings the bats, and they made us work for every out."

Placido Polanco had four hits and drove in two runs for the Tigers, who opened the weekend series with their third loss in four games despite hitting the ball hard all night. Detroit wasn't retired in order until A's reliever Kiko Calero did it in the eighth. The Tigers had 15 hits but stranded 12 runners.

"It's disappointing. We were a possible wild card, and this whole trip, we haven't played well," manager Alan Trammell said. "We got the hits tonight. We had opportunities early, but we were trailing too much. We were out of it after three innings."

Oakland tied a franchise record with three sacrifice flies from Chavez, Jay Payton and Jason Kendall. Johnson reached base four times, improving to 9-for-12 with four walks on the homestand, and scored two runs.

Harden allowed five hits and four walks in his last start at Texas, throwing 111 pitches in stifling heat. The A's thought about giving him an extra day to recuperate, but instead kept him on a normal schedule.

Douglass and Harden had two of the AL's three lowest ERAs since June 25 entering the game, but both struggled. Douglass allowed seven runs and six hits, losing for the first time in six starts since joining the Tigers from Triple-A Toledo on June 22.

"When things are going bad, they go bad," Douglass said. "I just didn't make the pitches tonight, and I couldn't make any adjustments, and they weren't swinging at bad pitches. If I'm commanding the ball the way I have (in recent starts), they'd be swinging."

Notes

  • A's OF Mark Kotsay sat out his fifth game in a row with a nagging back injury. Bobby Kielty started in left field and drove in a run, then left in the third inning with a strained lower back. Keith Ginter played in the outfield for just the fifth time in his career. The A's won't know Kielty's status until Saturday.
  • Detroit RHP Chris Dingman was sharp in relief of Douglass, striking out four in 2 1/3 hitless innings.
  • Justin Duchscherer, the A's All-Star reliever, struck out three in 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
  • Magglio Ordonez's 20-game hitting streak was snapped.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Despite yielding a career-high 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings, Rich Harden wins his fourth start in a row.  (AP)
Despite yielding a career-high 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings, Rich Harden wins his fourth start in a row. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

P. Polanco
AB 5
R 1
H 4
HR 0
RBI 2
Oakland

M. Ellis
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Detroit Tigers
Placido Polanco, 2B5142010 .333
Carlos Guillen, SS5000023 .318
Chris Shelton, 1B4011113 .357
Magglio Ordonez, RF4000124 .321
Rondell White, DH5030013 .316
Ivan Rodriguez, C5020002 .299
Dmitri Young, LF4120113 .258
Craig Monroe, CF4110003 .289
Brandon Inge, 3B4121012 .273
Totals4041543923 
Batting
2B - Placido Polanco 2 (15, Harden, Harden), Rondell White (19, Calero), Brandon Inge (20, Harden)
RBI - Placido Polanco 2 (37), Chris Shelton (35), Brandon Inge (47)
Team LOB - 12
Detroit Tigers
Sean Douglass (L,3-1) 2.2677101 3.86
Craig Dingman 2.1000140 0.00
Vic Darensbourg 1211000 7.71
Jamie Walker 1000010 2.31
Fernando Rodney 1000110 2.21
WP - Sean Douglass (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Sean Douglass 73-42, Craig Dingman 31-20, Vic Darensbourg 15-12, Jamie Walker 13-9, Fernando Rodney 19-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sean Douglass 6-3, Jamie Walker 1-1
Batters Faced - Sean Douglass 16, Craig Dingman 8, Vic Darensbourg 5, Jamie Walker 3, Fernando Rodney 4
Oakland Athletics
Jason Kendall, C3001010 .274
Nick Swisher, RF4110011 .249
Bobby Crosby, SS4100000 .294
Eric Chavez, 3B3111000 .270
Scott Hatteberg, DH3121110 .281
Bobby Kielty, LF1101000 .284
   a- Keith Ginter, PH-LF3000011 .164
Dan Johnson, 1B2221200 .321
Jay Payton, CF3011012 .267
Mark Ellis, 2B4112013 .298
Totals30888367 
a-grounded out for Kielty in the 3rd
Batting
2B - Nick Swisher (19, Douglass), Eric Chavez (22, Douglass)
HR - Mark Ellis (3, Douglass)
SF - Jason Kendall (3), Eric Chavez (6), Jay Payton (2)
RBI - Jason Kendall (32), Eric Chavez (61), Scott Hatteberg (42), Bobby Kielty (45), Dan Johnson (25), Jay Payton (29), Mark Ellis 2 (25)
2-OUT RBI - Dan Johnson (8), Mark Ellis 2 (10)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Harden-Ellis-Johnson, Harden-Ellis-Crosby-Johnson
Oakland Athletics
Rich Harden (W,9-4) 5.11244240 2.53
Justin Duchscherer (H,8) 1.2100130 1.79
Kiko Calero 2200020 4.06
Pitches-Strikes - Rich Harden 94-65, Justin Duchscherer 45-31, Kiko Calero 30-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rich Harden 7-3, Kiko Calero 3-1
Batters Faced - Rich Harden 28, Justin Duchscherer 7, Kiko Calero 8
Game Information
Attendance - 20563
Game Time - 2:58
Temperature - 63
Umpires - Home - Terry Craft, First Base - Ted Barrett, Second Base - Alfonso Marquez, Third Base - Rick Reed