Payton hit his 100th career homer, a three-run shot in the sixth, and Joe Blanton pitched seven strong innings to help the Athletics end a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
“Chavy is a great player and it’s hard to replace his glove or bat,” Blanton said. “He definitely makes our defense and hitting stronger. You have to feel more comfortable when he’s out there.”
Chavez, who missed three games with soreness in his right foreman, went 1-for-4—his single sparking the winning rally—and made a nice defensive play in the eighth to save a run.
Neither Chavez nor Payton were available after the game. Chavez had family issues to deal with, while Payton dashed out of the clubhouse trying to beat the sellout crowd there for fireworks.
“Payton is leading our team in hitting right now,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “I’d say he’s been doing well. Getting Chavez back in the lineup means a lot to us, especially defensively. He swung the bat well, too.”
Blanton (8-7) won for the third time in four decisions. He gave up three runs and nine hits, striking out one and did not walk a batter. He retired 10 in a row at one point.
“I got into a groove there and felt more comfortable in the later innings,” Blanton said. “My offspeed pitches got better, too.”
The Tigers lost for the second time in three games but have still won eight of 10 and 18 of 22.
Nate Robertson (8-4) took just his second loss since April 17. He allowed five runs and seven hits over seven innings, walking four and striking out three. He was the first Tigers starter to get a loss in a span of 24 games.
“He had a good outing,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He got a slider up and Payton hit it out and that’s pretty much the game.”
“Tonight was kind of night we were built for,” Crosby said. “Pitching and defense and we’re going to score some runs. I think it was a typical A’s game and A’s win.”
Chavez led off the Oakland sixth with a single and Frank Thomas walked. Payton hit Robertson’s first pitch just inside the foul pole to give the A’s a 5-3 lead.
“I walked three of the five runs they scored,” Robertson said. “You can’t walk guys. I had the lead on two different occasions and I didn’t hold onto it.”
Mark Kotsay extended his career-high hitless streak to 29 at-bats after going 0-for-4.
Tigers RHP Justin Verlander is one of the AL finalists for the last spot on the all-star team, which will be determined by fan voting. … A’s RHP Rich Harden did not respond well to a throwing session on Sunday and will be shut down for a week. … A’s RHP Jay Witasick is throwing long toss while recovering from left ankle tendinitis. … Tigers RHP Joel Zumaya has a 1.67 ERA and 39 strikeouts over his last 28 appearances. … Guillen has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games. … The A’s recorded their seventh sellout of the season thanks in part to a postgame fireworks show. … Thomas drew his 1,499th walk, tying him with Eddie Collins for 16th all-time.