DETROIT — The Athletics have beaten the Tigers with both pitching and power. And that has left Detroit on the brink of elimination — and simmering with frustration.
Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith homered for Oakland, which chased Anibal Sanchez in the fifth inning Monday and defeated the Tigers 6-3 for a 2-1 AL Division Series lead.
Moss broke a tie at 3 in the fifth with a solo shot, and Smith's two-run drive in the inning ended Sanchez's day. It was an impressive offensive show after the teams split two low-scoring games in Oakland.
This one got a little tense in the ninth, too, when A's closer and former Ray Grant Balfour and Detroit DH Victor Martinez started shouting at each other after a foul ball, causing benches and bullpens to empty.
"I don't know what happened. Honestly, I know that Balfour is fiery on the mound; he's yelling a lot and spitting everywhere," Moss said. "It's who he is. You know, sometimes it can ruffle the feathers of other teams."
The A's aren't worried about making friends, especially after losing to the Tigers in a five-game ALDS last year. Oakland can close out this series today and reach the AL Championship Series for the first time since 2006.
"There's no tricks. We've got to win the game (today) to try to extend it to Game 5. It's that simple," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We ran into another situation where we didn't put enough runs on the board and an excellent starting pitcher didn't have a very good day."
Smith has homered off Sanchez more than any other player, twice in the regular season and twice in the playoffs. There was activity in the Detroit bullpen before Smith's homer Monday, and he made the Tigers pay for sticking with the struggling Sanchez, this year's AL ERA leader.
"Sometimes he starts out a little slow, you figure he's going to get it going," Leyland said. Monday "he just really didn't get it going."
Balfour pitched a hitless ninth for the save. Martinez had just hit a foul ball when he started looking back at Balfour, who yelled something back.
Martinez started slowly toward the mound, and players from both teams ran out. The situation eventually calmed and no players were ejected.
"I said, 'Why you staring me down like that?' " Balfour said. "He was staring me down. He knew what he was doing."