Matsui hits 500th career homer, lifts A's past TigersJul 21, 2011 - 4:54 AM
Hideki Matsui highlighted a four-run seventh with a go-ahead RBI single, one inning after he hit the 500th homer of his professional career, and Oakland salvaged a split of its two-game series against Detroit with a 7-5 victory.
After blowing their second lead of the game in the sixth inning, the Athletics opened up the deciding frame by drawing three straight walks off Tigers reliever David Purcey (1-2). All three base runners eventually scored, with Matsui plating Coco Crisp from second with a base hit to right to snap a tie game.
"Well, the old saying [is] 'walks kill,' that just can't happen. It's that simple," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "When you do that, you get burnt and that's exactly what happened. We let one get away that we should have won."
Conor Jackson added an insurance run in the inning with an RBI single and Andrew Bailey worked around a one-out walk in the ninth inning to record the 61st save of his career, tying Jay Howell for sixth on the club's all-time list.
It also gave Oakland its fourth victory in six games since entering the All- Star break on a four-game slide and just its sixth in the last 30 games on the road.
Hometown product Duane Below made his major league debut for the Tigers and gave up three runs -- one earned -- over five-plus innings. Born in Britton, Michigan, Below had his contract purchased prior to the game after going 9-4 with a 3.13 earned run average in 18 starts with Triple-A Toledo, but had his night come to an end in the sixth inning after serving up Matsui's milestone homer.
The 37-year-old opened up the sixth inning by smacking a fastball from Below off the right field foul pole for his seventh homer of the season and first since June 16. Twenty-five major league players and eight in the Japanese Leagues have previously reached the mark, but Matsui is the first to combine in the two leagues for 500.
"Five-hundred home runs is quite a feat. I don't care if it was split two different places," said A's interim manager Bob Melvin. "It's the Major Leagues in Japan, it's the Major Leagues here. Five-hundred home runs is quite a tribute to an incredible player."
Matsui hit 168 of his homers in the States, including 140 over seven seasons with the Yankees, who the A's visit on Friday for a three-game set. They do so hoping to win back-to-back road games for the first time since May 8-9.
Oakland nearly packaged a gift of its own for Detroit in the bottom of the seventh when Brad Ziegler yielded back-to-back singles with one out, but Craig Breslow came on and got the dangerous Victor Martinez to hit into an inning- ending double play.
Martinez drove in two runs and Magglio Ordonez added three hits and an RBI for the Tigers, who had won six of nine and remained tied with the Indians for first place in the American League Central.
Oakland should be relieved to be leaving Detroit with a series split after blowing leads in the third and sixth inning.
Below was sharp to begin his debut, retiring the first six batters he faced before David DeJesus reached on an error by second baseman Carlos Guillen. The wheels came off from there for the youngster as Landon Powell followed with a single to center that put runners on the corners, setting up Eric Sogard for his first career RBI that came on a groundout to Guillen.
Oakland, which failed to score in the fourth inning of Tuesday's opener despite loading the bases with nobody out, filled the bases in the inning, only to see Josh Willingham strikeout looking on three pitches for the second out.
Matsui, though, came through with a grounder back to Below, who knocked the ball down with his glove, but couldn't recover in time to get the out at first as Powell came in to score for a 2-0 lead.
"We don't hit a lot of home runs, we don't hit a lot of extra-base hits, but the way we beat [the Tigers] today was singling them to death and driving in key runs with two outs and taking what they gave us," Melvin said.
Detroit answered in the bottom of the frame when Ramon Santiago followed Don Kelly's triple with an RBI groundout before Ordonez later tied the game on a run-scoring liner to center.
After Matsui's homer put the A's back ahead, the Tigers again responded with a three-run frame in the bottom of the sixth. Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera opened the inning with consecutive singles off starter Brandon McCarthy, prompting Melvin to summon right-hander Joey Devine from the bullpen. The switch didn't throw off the Tigers as Martinez greeted the reliever with a two-run double.
Kelly pushed the Tigers' advantage to two runs with a sacrifice fly before Devine retired Santiago and Austin Jackson on fly balls to end the inning.
Despite getting charged with a run over his inning of work, Devine (1-1) got the win in relief of McCarthy, who yielded four runs over five-plus innings.
In addition to Below, the Tigers also recalled pitcher Charlie Furbush from Toledo while sending hurler Adam Wilk and outfielder Casper Wells to the minor league club...Also prior to the game, Detroit acquired infielder Wilson Betemit from Kansas City for minor league pitcher Antonio Cruz and catcher Julio Rodriguez. Betemit is expected to join the Tigers on Thursday in Minnesota and is likely to take playing time away from Brandon Inge, who is batting just .177 with one homer in 70 games this year...Purcey was traded from Oakland to Detroit in May for third baseman Scott Sizemore, who did not start after getting hit in the jaw by a pitch in Tuesday's opener. Sizemore did come into the game as a defensive replacement, while second baseman Jemile Weeks did not play after fouling a ball off his right foot on Tuesday. He had started 36 straight games since his promotion from the minors on June 7...With Sizemore out, Jackson crossed the diamond to start in his place, with catcher Landon Powell making his first start of the season at first. Sogard, who replaced Sizemore on Tuesday, started at second.
- OAKLAND: 7
Jul 20 10:23 PM
- Conor Jackson singled to right scored Cliff Pennington. On the play, Hideki Matsui advances to second. Runners on first and second with one out and Kurt Suzuki due up.
Athletics 7, Tigers 5 Top 7, 1 OutJul 20 9:31 PM
- Hideki Matsui singled to right scored Coco Crisp. On the play, Cliff Pennington advances to third. Runners on first and third with one out and Conor Jackson due up.
Athletics 6, Tigers 5 Top 7, 1 OutJul 20 9:28 PM
- Josh Willingham sacrifice fly out to right scored Eric Sogard. Runners on first and second and with one out and Hideki Matsui due up.
Athletics 5, Tigers 5 Top 7, 1 OutJul 20 9:23 PM
- Cliff Pennington singled to right scored Landon Powell. On the play, Coco Crisp advances to second and Eric Sogard advances to third. Bases loaded with none out and Josh Willingham due up.
Athletics 4, Tigers 5 Top 7, 0 OutsJul 20 9:22 PM
- Don Kelly sacrifice fly out to center scored Victor Martinez. Runners on first and second and with one out and Ramon Santiago due up.
Athletics 3, Tigers 5 Bot 6, 1 OutJul 20 9:03 PM
- Victor Martinez doubled to right scored Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera. Runner on second with none out and Carlos Guillen due up.
Athletics 3, Tigers 4 Bot 6, 0 OutsJul 20 8:58 PM
- Lester Oliveros enters the game for the Tigers with none on and none out.
Athletics 3, Tigers 2 Top 6, 0 OutsJul 20 8:43 PM
- Magglio Ordonez singled to center scored Austin Jackson. Runner on first with two outs and Miguel Cabrera due up.
Athletics 2, Tigers 2 Bot 3, 2 OutsJul 20 8:04 PM
- Austin Jackson singled to right. Runner on first with one out and Brennan Boesch due up.
Athletics 2, Tigers 1 Bot 3, 1 OutJul 20 8:00 PM
- Hideki Matsui infield single to pitcher scored Landon Powell. On the play, Cliff Pennington advances to second and Coco Crisp advances to third. Bases loaded with two outs and Conor Jackson due up.
Athletics 2, Tigers 0 Top 3, 2 OutsJul 20 7:52 PM
- Eric Sogard grounded out second to first scored David DeJesus. On the play, Landon Powell advances to second. Runner on second with one out and Coco Crisp due up.
Athletics 1, Tigers 0 Top 3, 1 OutJul 20 7:39 PM
- OAKLAND: 0
Top 1, 0 Outs
Jul 20 7:06 PM
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