DETROIT – A dropped fly, two wild pitches and a little smooch for the baseball by a relieved reliever.
Then Don Kelly brought it all to an end with a simple fly ball.
Kelly scored the tying run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning, then hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth that lifted the Detroit Tigers over the Oakland Athletics 5-4 Sunday for a 2-0 lead in their AL playoff series.
Was looking for a fastball and I got it, Kelly said. It’s a great feeling. To be able to go out there in that situation and do that.
Detroit will go for a sweep of the division series matchup in Game 3 on Tuesday at Oakland.
We just need to win a game, Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. If you start thinking about three games ahead, you lose your focus on Tuesday’s game.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera doubled twice for the Tigers, hit a fly ball that resulted in a two-run error and singled in the ninth.
The Tigers overcame three A’s leads and seesawed to victory. It was 1-all before a wild final three innings that included a big Oakland misplay and two game-tying wild pitches.
It was the sixth straight postseason loss for the A’s, all to Detroit. The Tigers swept Oakland in the 2006 AL championship series, winning the series on Magglio Ordonez’s homer in Game 4 – which was Detroit’s last sudden-death postseason win before Sunday.
Omar Infante and Cabrera hit back-to-back singles off Grant Balfour with one out in the ninth. With men on first and third, Prince Fielder was intentionally walked, bringing up Kelly, who had stayed in the game as the designated hitter after pinch-running the previous inning.
Kelly’s fly to right was deep enough to score Infante without a play at the plate.
It was tied at 4 after both teams made their share of mistakes in the seventh and eighth. Cliff Pennington gave the A’s the lead with an RBI single in the seventh, but center fielder Coco Crisp dropped Cabrera’s two-out flyball in the bottom half, allowing two runs to score.
Oakland tied it in the eighth on a wild pitch by Joaquin Benoit, and Josh Reddick followed with a solo homer to give the A’s a 4-3 lead. Then it was Ryan Cook’s turn to throw a tying wild pitch, allowing Kelly to score as a pinch runner.
Pennington nearly came through again for Oakland in the ninth, but his deep drive down the left-field line was just foul. With runners on first and third and two out, Al Alburquerque got Yoenis Cespedes on a grounder to the mound, and it looked like the right-hander planted a little kiss on the ball before throwing to first after he fielded the comebacker.