DETROIT -- Oakland has made a living off other teams' mistakes this season, and Thursday was no exception.
Capitalizing on the Detroit Tigers' defensive lapses, the A's roared to a 12-4 win to salvage the final game of a three-game set in the Motor City.
The win moved the A's within 3 1/2 games of the Texas Rangers for first-place in the AL West. Oakland and Baltimore own the two top spots in the Wild Card standings, with both leading the Los Angeles Angels by four games. The Angels play the Rangers later Thursday, while the Orioles are off.
A rookie mistake plus a misjudgment by a reliable veteran set the A's up to score four sixth-inning runs to take a 6-3 lead.
Trailing 3-2, Yoenis Cespedes started the rally with a one-out single. Brandon Moss then rifled a one-hop double off the right field wall, and rookie Avisail Garcia showed off his strong arm -- except there was nobody where he was throwing it.
The ball trickled through the middle of the infield as Cespedes scored to tie the game, and Moss, credited with a double, went to third. After a two-out intentional walk to Seth Smith, Josh Donaldson lined a fastball over short to give the A's a 4-3 edge.
They weren't done. George Kotteras greeted reliever Phil Coke with a triple off centerfielder Austin Jackson's glove. Jackson took a step in for the ball, then couldn't retreat quickly enough to make the play, allowing two runs to score.
Smith led off the fifth with his 14th home run of the season. Oakland also took advantage of a bad Omar Infante throw to first on a potential double play grounder with runners at first and third to score an unearned run in the third.
Singles by Jhonny Peralta and Garcia started the second for Detroit; they were sacrificed over and scored on an RBI single by Gerald Laird and a sacrifice fly by Jackson. Prince Fielder had an RBI double in the fifth to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
In the sixth, Andy Dirks cranked a solo homer to right, pulling the Tigers within a run at 6-4.
A bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center by Cespedes and a base-loaded walk to Daric Barton in the ninth upped the lead to 8-4 and a three-run double to right by Smith sent the crowd out to beat rush-hour traffic.
Lefty Tommy Milone fell one out shy of benefiting from the A's four-run sixth. Instead, Pat Neshek (2-1) picked up a win for throwing two pitches.
NOTES. The status of LHP Brett Anderson's strained right oblique was under determination Thursday. "We haven't gotten the results of the MRI yet, but he's sore," manager Bob Melvin said before the game. Anderson had to leave Wednesday night's game after 2 1/3 innings when he suffered the strain. He said LHP Travis Blackley would pitch in the likely event Anderson can't make his next start. "We've been pretty consistent in being able to match up, whether it's lineups or pitchers," Melvin said. ... CF Coco Crisp, whose return to the lineup Tuesday was aborted by a recurrence of an eye infection, could return to the lineup Friday, "and that's being optimistic," Melvin said. ... OF Yoenis Cespedes has been nursing a bone bruise in his foot. He played center field with it Wednesday night. "You could see it getting worse as the game went on," Melvin said. "It's day-to-day whether he can play the outfield. He's had it for several days."