OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Athletics' left-hander Gio Gonzalez threw only nine first-pitch strikes, struggled with his control and worked with runners on base in almost every inning.
Earning his 14th win of the season sure didn't come easily for Gonzalez. Then again, not much has this season. Not for A's or their All-Star left-hander.
``Maybe he didn't have his best stuff and he got behind hitters but he made pitches when he had to,' manager Bob Melvin said following Oakland's 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. ``I'm surprised he got us through seven, but that's what good pitchers do. They make it work even without their best stuff.'
Gonzalez allowed eight hits over seven innings, struck out four and walked two while improving to 5-1 over his past six starts.
He got plenty of help from Oakland's defense error-prone defense, which turned three double plays while holding Detroit scoreless for the first five innings.
``The defense played unbelievable,' Gonzalez said. ``I felt like I was around the zone. They were swinging the bats, being aggressive so we tried to take advantage of that.'
Coco Crisp drove in the deciding run with an RBI single over the head of shortstop Jhonny Peralta in the second inning while Josh Willingham singled twice and scored for Oakland.
The A's won for only the second time in five games, both coming in this series with the Tigers.
Detroit still had the tying run at the plate in the ninth following Don Kelly's pinch-hit two-run double off Bailey.
Oakland's two-time All-Star closer, who missed 53 games earlier this year with a strained forearm, got out of it by striking out pinch-hitter Alex Avila and Austin Jackson.
No one could blame the Tigers for being a little off after toasting their first division title in nearly a quarter-century with a champagne-and-cigar celebration in the tiny visitor's clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.
Magglio Ordonez had three hits and scored a run for Detroit, who had men on base most of the afternoon but failed to capitalize.
Gonzalez limited the damage to beat Detroit for the first time in five career starts. He did it despite twisting his ankle trying to make a pickoff throw to second base in the first inning.
After Ordonez and Ryan Raburn hit back-to-back one-out singles, Gonzalez (14-12) tried to catch Ordonez straying off second base. He turned to throw, but slipped on the mound and appeared to roll his left ankle.
Gonzalez walked around behind the mound to test his foot, threw one warmup pitch then returned to the mound. He got out of the inning when Miguel Cabrera flew out to right fielder David De Jesus, who doubled up Ordonez at second.
Detroit was stymied by Gonzalez in the third and fourth and only managed one run after loading the bases with one out in the sixth. Peralta hit a sacrifice fly to score Ordonez, but that was all the Tigers could get off Gonzalez.
``It was a good win, a good step in the right direction for us,' Gonzalez said. ``We did our job.'
Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Andrew Bailey worked the ninth for Oakland.
The Tigers had plenty of opportunities - they had at least two runners on base in five innings - but stranded seven runners and lost for only the third time this month.
Right-hander Rick Porcello took the loss, allowing three runs over seven innings. Porcello (14-9) struck out four and walked three but was denied in his first attempt to become the second-youngest player in franchise history to reach 39 career wins before his 23rd birthday.
Raburn went 2 for 4 while Victor Martinez singled twice to raise his batting average this month to .349.
The A's stranded a pair of runners in the first then took a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI singles by Scott Sizemore and Crisp.
Oakland loaded the bases against Porcello with no outs the following inning, but Detroit's right-hander allowed only a sacrifice fly to Kurt Suzuki then got Sizemore to ground out to end the inning.
Jemile Weeks singled in Suzuki in the eighth to make it 4-1 and Crisp followed with his second RBI single.
Weeks finished 3 for 5 while Crisp and Sizemore added two hits apiece.
Notes: OF Ryan Sweeney, sidelined by a sore quad, rode a stationary bicycle before the game to test his leg. ... Injured Oakland left-hander Dallas Braden, out since undergoing season-ending surgery on his pitching shoulder, was in the team's clubhouse before the game and will accompany Oakland on its final road trip beginning Friday in Anaheim. ... The A's recalled RHP Graham Godfrey and 1B Chris Carter from Triple-A Sacramento before the game. ... Justin Verlander goes for his major league-leading 24th win in the series finale Sunday. Verlander (23-5) has only two wins in seven career starts in Oakland. ... RHP Guillermo Moscoso (8-8) is on a two-game winning streak, the longest of his career, and will go for Oakland in the finale.
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