Tigers 3, Athletics 2
DETROIT (AP)—The Detroit Tigers gave themselves and their fans a chance to forget about a miserable season for one afternoon.
Detroit has won just 30 games—while every other team in baseball has more than 40—and is on pace to threaten the modern major league record of 120 losses set by the 1962 New York Mets.
But none of that stopped the crowd of 19,664 from giving the Tigers a standing ovation when they ran off the field in the eighth, and after the game.
“This is definitely a baseball town, but we’ve got to give them something to cheer about,” said Jeremy Bonderman, who gave up one earned run and improved to 5-15.
Zito (8-10) has gone seven starts without a win and his victory on July 3 against Seattle is his only win in 12 starts.
The reigning AL Cy Young winner didn’t pitch poorly against the lowly Tigers, allowing just six hits without giving up an earned run over eight innings. But after shortstop Miguel Tejada’s two-out error in the fourth inning, Zito walked Carlos Pena and allowed Munson’s home run.
“I felt pretty good and that’s the most important thing,” Zito said. “I had pretty good stuff.”
The A’s had a chance to tie the game in the eighth with two on and none out, but Scott Hatteberg popped up on a bunt, Eric Byrnes was thrown out at home on a perfect throw from left fielder Craig Monroe and Billy McMillon grounded out.
“We had a bunch of opportunities,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “The killer was second and third, nobody out, and we didn’t get anybody in.”
Oakland had won three straight and 10 of 13. Detroit had dropped three in a row and eight of nine.
Bonderman avoided being the only 16-game loser in baseball with his third win in five starts. Bonderman gave up two runs—one earned—on three hits and a career-high six walks over five-plus innings while striking out three.
Oakland sent the 20-year-old to Detroit last year in a three-team trade, which included the New York Yankees.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s good to beat Oakland,” Bonderman said. “But this game is strictly business.”
“We have 30 wins and it seems like 25 of them have been like that,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “I don’t chew my fingernails, but I might start.”
Jose Guillen gave the A’s a 1-0 lead in the third with his first homer with Oakland. Oakland went ahead 2-0 in the fourth after Erubiel Durazo walked, advanced on a sacrifice and scored on Munson’s fielding error at third.
“I was hoping I could do something offensively to make up for the error and luckily I did,” Munson said.
The Tigers hit leadoff singles in each of the first three innings, but could not get a runner past second base against Zito, who walked one and struck out three.
In the fourth, Detroit appeared to be going away quietly again as Bobby Higginson and Dmitri Young struck out to start the inning. But then Tejada kept the inning alive for Detroit with a throwing error. One pitch after Pena walked, Munson hit his 17th homer to right to put the Tigers ahead.
“Barry did his job,” Macha said. “One mistake—hung a curveball.”
Zito is 4-5 in his career against the Tigers, and 51-21 against the rest ofbaseball.
Zito has lost his last three complete-game outings. … When Detroit beat Oakland 4-1 on April 23 at home, Bonderman beat Zito after giving up one run over eight innings. … Bonderman and teammate Mike Maroth are the only pitchers in the major leagues with 15 losses. … Detroit is 5-15 since the All-Star break. … Guillen hit 23 homers in 91 games this season forCincinnati, which traded him to the A’s on July 31.