It wasn't Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman and Rollie Fingers, but Brett Anderson, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour did a pretty good impression during a 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday night. The four Oakland pitchers held the Tigers to just four singles while combining to strike out 11 in front of a boisterous home sellout crowd of 37,090. "They pitched and played a perfect game, you've got to tip your hats to them," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. Losing for the first time in seven postseason games against Oakland, Detroit will try again Wednesday in Game 4 to wrap up the best-of-five series. Anderson was making his first start since Sept. 19, when he left a regular-season game against the Tigers with a strained right oblique. He had just returned in late August after recovering from Tommy John surgery. "You couldn't really script it, but it worked out," Anderson said. Working down in the zone, the 24-year-old left-hander retired 10 Tigers on groundball outs. He induced one flyout and struck out six. "I don't know how you could expect more than what we got out of him tonight," A's manager Bob Melvin said. Anderson finished strong, striking out Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera to end a 1-2-3 sixth inning. He tried to talk his way into at least another inning, but Melvin decided it was time to take what his starter gave him and turn to the bullpen. "We had a long discussion with him because he didn't know we had a pitch count on him," Melvin said of Anderson, who threw 80 pitches. "He didn't feel as well early in the game as he felt late. But 19 to 20 days off, we weren't looking for any more than that." The A's broke through in the first inning against Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez, who was making his first career postseason start. Coco Crisp singled to right field and advanced 90 feet on a full-count walk to Stephen Drew. Yoenis Cespedes singled to center to plate Crisp. "It was nice to get off to a good start," Melvin said. "We felt good about getting the fans involved right way, too, because they've been the 10th man definitely here recently." Anderson tippy-toed through the second inning, the only frame in the early portion of the game in which Detroit threatened. Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta singled after Crisp robbed Prince Fielder of a home run with a running catch against the fence in right-center field. "Coco robbing the homer set the tone," Anderson said. "You can't say enough about the defense." Andy Dirks bounced into a fielder's choice forceout, and Anderson gloved Avisail Garcia's comebacker to keep retire the Tigers. It marked the only inning that Detroit produced hits against Anderson. "We have to do a better job getting men on and getting them in," Infante said. Oakland tacked on a second run in the fifth. Designated hitter Seth Smith lifted a low fastball over the center field fence for a solo home run to snap a run of eight consecutive batters retired by Sanchez. Cook was first out of the Oakland bullpen, and he was greeted by Fielder's slicing liner to left that Cespedes put away with a diving catch. Peralta singled with two outs, Detroit's first hit since the shortstop's single in the second, but Cook capped the inning by retiring Dirks on a fly to left. Doolittle, a rookie left-hander, had a masterful eighth, striking out Garcia, Gerald Laird and Austin Jackson. Balfour bounced back from an extra-inning loss in Game 2 to close out Game 3. Triple Crown winner Cabrera singled to right to extend his postseason hitting streak to 14 games, but Fielder bounced into a double play to end it. "Runs are at a premium so far in this series for both teams," Leyland said. NOTES: Oakland rookie A.J. Griffin is set to oppose Max Scherzer in Wednesday's Game 4. Scherzer has been slowed recently by ankle and shoulder injuries. ... The A's have lost seven of their last eight postseason series dating back to the 1990 World Series. ... Only 11 of the 25 players on Oakland's postseason roster were also on the team's Opening Day roster. ... Only two Tigers have had longer postseason hitting streaks than Cabrera -- 18 games by Hank Greenberg and 16 by Charlie Gehringer.
- Brett Anderson