DETROIT -- A year ago, the Tigers rode a hot bullpen all the way to the World Series. This season, their relievers might be the biggest reason they don't make it back.
The Tigers' bullpen gave up nine runs, and Detroit lost for the seventh time in nine games while falling to 11-18 since the All-Star break.
"We can't keep going like this," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "This team is battling, and I'm very proud of them, but this was a terrible night."
"With everything we've gone through, we're lucky to just be where we're at," he said. "You have to guard against making excuses, but we're fortunate to be in this."
"This was a crazy game," Cust said. "Detroit's offense is fun to watch, and they scored a lot of runs tonight. Luckily, so did we."
The Athletics, though, quickly restored the seven-run margin.
Macay McBride (0-1) retired the first hitter of the sixth, but hit Buck before walking the next two batters.
"We preach selective aggression all through the minors and that leads to walks," Oakland manager Bob Geren said. "It works better when you get home runs too."
Cust provided just that, hitting a 429-foot line drive to center field to give Oakland a 12-9 lead.
"I hit that one pretty good," Cust said. "I didn't even feel the ball make contact, and that's when you know you got all of it."
Zach Miner replaced McBride and Mark Ellis doubled, Mark Kotsay was intentionally walked and Marco Scutaro and Murphy hit RBI singles to make it 14-9. Kurt Suzuki struck out for the second time in the inning, but Buck hit a two-run single, his fourth hit of the game.
"I don't know what the answer is," said the Tigers' Jason Grilli, who allowed one run and has an 8.53 ERA in his last six games. "We're all trying to pull our weight, so this is unfortunate."
Ruddy Lugo (3-0) got the win pitching two innings of relief.
Buck had a chance to hit for the cycle, but grounded out in the ninth when he needed a homer.
"I'm not a home-run hitter, but I went up there swinging as hard as I could," he said. "Rodney just blew my bat apart."
Oakland took a 1-0 lead in the first on Nick Swisher's sacrifice fly, then added two more in the second on Murphy's homer. Detroit got one back in the bottom of the inning, but Cust's bases-loaded double highlighted a four-run third that gave the Athletics a 7-1 lead.
Buck's RBI double in the fourth gave Oakland their first seven-run lead.
- Oakland's eight-run sixth matched a season high, set April 20 at Texas, and was the biggest inning allowed by Detroit this season.
- Granderson's 18 triples are the most by a Tiger since Barney McCosky had 19 in 1940. Sam Crawford has the franchise record of 26 in 1914.
- Blanton has a career 9.67 ERA in five starts against the Tigers, but has managed a 2-2 record.
- The loss was just the second of McBride's 131-game career.