DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Tigers lost a game Wednesday, but it was what they did before and after that will garner all of the headlines.
Before Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics, the Tigers announced that they had traded two minor leaguers to the Kansas City Royals for third baseman Wilson Betemit.
``We like Betemit; we feel he upgrades us at third base at this time,' said Tigers president Dave Dombrowski. ``We're in a position where, as you know, we've scuffled offensively at that spot.'
Betemit will replace Brandon Inge at third base, and after the game, the Tigers designated Inge for assignment. Inge is hitting .177 with one homer in 70 games this season, and has struggled in the field.
``It's a tough move - Brandon has done a lot for the franchise,' Dombrowski said. ``He knows he's scuffling, he's the first one to admit it.'
Inge told the team that he will accept a demotion to Triple-A Toledo if he clears waivers.
``I could have made the decision to not accept the assignment and maybe get picked up by another team,' said Inge, who has played for the Tigers since 2001. ``But this is home, and this is my team. I need to go down and work this out, but I'll be back. I'll be back in September no matter what. That's a definite.'
After the Betemit move but before Inge's demotion, the Tigers lost a chance to move back ahead of Cleveland for first place in the AL Central.
Hideki Matsui led off the sixth inning with his 500th homer - 168 in the majors and 332 for the Yomiuri Giants - to put Oakland up 3-2 and end Duane Below's night.
``I'm happy to get it over with, and it is even better that it helped us win a game,' Matsui said through an interpreter. ``It isn't like I've been aiming for this, because I don't really combine numbers from Japan and here. To me, they are two separate leagues.'
Below, making his major-league debut, allowed three runs - one earned - in five-plus innings.
``He did fine,' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``I thought at one point that the heat was getting to him, but he picked back up again.'
Fellow rookie Lester Oliveros finished the inning, and Detroit took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera led off with singles off McCarthy, and Victor Martinez followed with a two-run double off reliever Joey Devine (1-1).
Tigers reliever David Purcey (1-2), though, walked the first three batters of the seventh before giving way to Joaquin Benoit.
Cliff Pennington singled to make it 5-4, and Josh Willingham's sacrifice fly tied the game. Matsui and Conor Jackson then hit RBI singles to give Oakland a 7-5 lead.
``It is the old saying - walks kill,' Leyland said. ``When you do that you get burnt and that's exactly what happened. We let one get away we should have won.'
Matsui had a RBI single in Oakland's two-run third, but Don Kelly's triple helped the Tigers tie the game in the bottom of the inning.
Andrew Bailey, Oakland's sixth pitcher, pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 12 tries, striking out Cabrera to end the game with a runner on second.
Notes: Kelly, who has played all nine positions in his major-league career, is expected to back up Betemit at third base. ... Matsui has hit 333 homers in Japan, including one major-league homer, 160 in the United States and seven in Canada. ... Scott Sizemore, traded for Purcey earlier in the season, entered the game as a ninth-inning defensive replacement after being hit in the jaw by a Rick Porcello pitch on Tuesday.
The Associated Press News Service
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