DETROIT (AP)—Dmitri Young didn’t want to make a big deal about a two-run single in July.
His smile gave him away.
“It’s nothing monumental, except that I helped the team win,” he said with his trademark grin. “That’s all that is important. That’s what I’ve wanted to do.”
Young had been on the disabled list since leaving the team on May 22 to enter a California rehab clinic for what he described as drug and alcohol problems. His two-run single broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth, and he added another single in the eighth.
“I’ve always been a part of this team,” he said. “They’ve always included me in everything, even when I was off getting myself right.”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland still wants to see more from the designated hitter, but he was pleased with the comeback’s opening act.
“I’m happy for him—that’s a great way to be welcomed back to the team,” he said. “But I wouldn’t have been down if he had gone 0-for-4, and I’m not going to be excited about two hits.”
Detroit, which owns the best record in baseball (65-31), has won three straight and is 6-2 on its current homestand. Oakland dropped to 5-3 since the All-Star break.
Rookie Justin Verlander (12-4) allowed one run, seven hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out five while improving to 5-0 with a 1.77 ERA in his last seven starts.
“He’s a great pitcher,” Oakland outfielder Jay Payton said. “He throws 100 miles an hour when he wants to and he’s got a great curveball and a good changeup. If you aren’t locked in, he makes it tough.”
Verlander is tied with Boston’s Josh Beckett and Toronto’s Roy Halladay for the major league lead in wins.
“Just to be mentioned in that group is pretty incredible,” he said. “It’s early, though.”
Dan Haren (6-9) dropped his fourth straight decision, giving up seven runs and nine hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out six.
“I can’t keep going out and hurting the team like this,” he said. “I don’t know. I need to sit back and think about what I need to do to get back where I was.”
Haren is 0-3 with an 8.47 ERA in his last three outings.
“The last few starts for Danny haven’t been good,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “Perhaps he’s in a little bit of a funk, location-wise. Hopefully, we can get him out of that.”
Milton Bradley gave the Athletics a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the third inning but they didn’t score again until getting three runs off Roman Colon in the ninth.
Haren didn’t allow a hit over the first three innings, but gave up three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
Curtis Granderson led off the fourth with a single, took second on Placido Polanco’s single and scored on Magglio Ordonez’s one-out double.
Haren intentionally walked Carlos Guillen to load the bases, and the strategy appeared to pay off when Marcus Thames grounded into a forceout at the plate.
Young, though, lined Haren’s 1-1 pitch into right field to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead. As he rounded the bag with his first hit since May 6, he clapped his hands and pumped a fist into the air.
Polanco’s RBI single made it 4-1 in the fifth and Ivan Rodriguez followed with a two-run single, extending his hitting streak to a season-best 12 games.
Brandon Inge added a homer, his 18th, in the sixth.
In the ninth, Oakland had the tying run at the plate before Fernando Rodney retired Eric Chavez to end the game.
“Relievers live on adrenaline, and sometimes when the score is a little lopsided, they don’t pitch as well,” Leyland said. “I’m not worried about it. Roman has been great.”
Young received some boos when he came to bat for the first time, but they were mostly drowned out by cheers from the sellout crowd of 40,687. “That was nice,” he said. “That was doggone nice.” … The Tigers have sold out four straight games for the first time in Comerica Park’s seven seasons. … To make room for Young on the roster, the Tigers optioned SS Ramon Santiago to Triple-A Toledo. … Oakland SS Bobby Crosby left the game after four innings with a sore back. His status for Saturday’s game was unknown.