OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jim Leyland sat in his office, his lucky cigar resting unlit in a nearby ashtray. He's going to throw the unused portion away -- and get a clean change of underwear -- now that his team's 12-game winning streak came to an end.
"I'll still smoke some of it," Leyland said. "It's a $40 cigar and was a gift, after all."
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David DeJesus hit a three-run homer in the first, Brandon McCarthy pitched seven strong innings and the Oakland Athletics snapped Detroit's longest winning streak in 77 years with a 6-1 victory on Thursday night, delaying the Tigers chance to clinch the AL Central Division title.
"We have 12 games left to win it," Tigers starter Max Scherzer said. "You have to like our chances. But we haven't won anything yet."
Leyland will get a new change of underwear when his team goes for their first outright title since 1987 on Friday night. He said before the game that he had not changed (nor washed) his underwear during the 12-game winning streak.
"It wasn't anything we did or didn't do," Leyland said. "We just got beat. We were ready to play but their pitcher has figured out the art of pitching. Give him all the credit."
The Tigers have not finished first since taking the AL East nearly a quarter-century ago. They only playoff appearance since then came in 2006, when they won the wild card.
Delmon Young hit a home run for the Tigers, who still saw their magic number drop to one when the Cleveland Indians fell to the Texas Rangers 7-4 earlier in the evening. The Tigers need any combination of a victory or a Cleveland loss over the final 12 games to clinch the division.
"We still have to get one more somehow," Leyland said. "It was a nice streak but that's over and we have to finish it."
McCarthy (9-8) allowed one run on five hits to improve to 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA over his past five starts. He walked two and struck out eight.
"As a team you never want to see people celebrating on your home field," McCarthy said. "For us it's just getting wins and playing well. If we happen to spoil guys on the way there, that's great."
Scherzer (14-9) lasted five innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out eight.
"We've been playing good ball as of late and we're still playing the best baseball of the season right now," Scherzer said.
Leyland said the impressive fact about the streak was that it included victories against the Indians and Chicago White Sox.
"It was a critical part of the season," Leyland said. "We stepped up to the plate against the teams right behind us. To beat those two teams, that's pretty good."
DeJesus ended a 79 at-bat homerless streak with his three-run shot with two outs in the first. Coco Crisp, who returned to the lineup after missing several games with an ankle injury, singled to lead off. He was forced at second by Pennington. After Hideki Matsui fouled out, Scherzer walked Josh Willingham ahead of DeJesus.
Suzuki led off the second with a home run and Pennington led off the fifth with a home run. Crisp doubled home a run in the eighth.
"It was a cold night, too," said A's manager Bob Melvin, who made his major-league debut with the Tigers in 1985. "It ended up being a good power night for us. We do have some power, and we've been better in the second half but this ballpark can be tough to hit home runs in".
Young's home run made it 4-1 in the third.
The A's (22-20) and Tigers (22-19) had similar records following game action on May 17. The teams have gone in notably different directions since.
Detroit was eight games behind the Cleveland Indians and four games under .500 on May 3. The Tigers have played .625 ball since and are on the verge of becoming the sixth team since 2000 to win a division title after being behind by at least eight games at some point in the season.
- The last time the A's played a team on a 12-game hitting streak was at Baltimore in 1999.
- RHP Trevor Cahill (11-13, 4.32) goes for the A's on Friday night. The former All-Star is 3-6 with a 6.86 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break. He beat the Tigers on April 17, allowing one run in eight innings.
- Scherzer recorded his career high 14 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings against the A's in May.
- Doug Fister (8-13, 3.06) will make the start for the Tigers on Friday night. He has been outstanding since joining the Tigers, going 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA. He is 4-0 with a 0.74 ERA in his past five starts.
- A's IF Jemile Weeks (leg cramps) was out of the starting lineup for the second successive day ads a precautionary measure.