By Richard L. Shook, Sports Xchange
DETROIT - As Coco Crisp goes, so do the Oakland Athletics, and Monday night Coco Crisp was going very well.
Crisp hit a double, solo home run and an RBI single Monday night to spark Oakland to an 8-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
"When Coco does well, we do well," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
"He's a huge catalyst for us," said winning pitcher A.J. Griffin (11-9), who won his first game since July 29. "He's a good sparkplug for us. When he's going good, the A's are usually going good."
Griffin survived giving up his 31st and 32nd home runs of the season, both two-run shots and the second being Miguel Cabrera's 43rd homer of the season. Griffin allowed the four runs in five innings before being relieved.
"I was trying to go off the plate," Griffin said. "It caught the corner of the plate. I've got to do a better job on that pitch."
The bullpen did enough to preserve the win. Danny Otero worked 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. Sean Doolittle gave up Victor Martinez's 11th home run in between two outs. Ryan Cook got two outs without allowing a run, and Grant Balfour notched his 33rd save despite allowing a run.
"We came out with real good energy," Melvin said. "It was a little demoralizing when we lose the lead on Cabrera's home run. But then we came right back and retook the lead."
Daric Barton, called up to replaced disabled Josh Reddick, had a pair of RBI singles, and Jed Lowrie chipped in with an RBI double. Yoenis Cespedes, who has been scuffling recently, returned to the starting lineup and had an RBI forceout in the first inning.
Crisp hit his 14th home run leading off the third inning and contributed an RBI single to the two-run sixth when the A's retook the lead for good. Oakland greeted reliever Jose Alvarez (1-4) with four hits good for two runs in the space of five batters. Alberto Callaspo contributed an RBI single off Al Alburquerque in the seventh.
Detroit's Omar Infante hit his seventh home run in the second to create a 2-2 tie and Cabrera's 43rd made it 4-4 in the fifth.
Detroit loaded the bases after Martinez's home run in the eighth but Cook was able to strike out Torii Hunter to strand the three runners and prevent Cabrera from coming to the plate until he led off the ninth.
Melvin had walked Cabrera intentionally in the at-bat after his home run, loading the bases, but Doolittle came on to get Prince Fielder for the final out of the inning.
"It's easier to sit back and watch the game on TV and (call for an intentional walk to Cabrera) than to be in the dugout with all the adrenalin flowing and walk him," Melvin said.
Manager Jim Leyland was irritated at Alburquerque for walking two batters while giving up a run in the seventh and wasn't pleased that Jeremy Bonderman struggled to throw strikes in the eighth and ninth. He gave up a run in the eighth and walked a pair in the ninth.
Crisp had two of Oakland's three extra-base hits in a 12-hit attack during a pairing of last year's AL Division Series participants won by Detroit.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez was uncharacteristically wild, and Oakland reached him for four runs in six innings. He gave up an RBI single to Josh Donaldson in the two-run first.
"Tonight, we didn't pitch good," Leyland said. "Our control was not good, we walked people. We made bad pitches. We just didn't pitch very well."
Crisp credited the A's hitters for their success against Sanchez.
"We did a good job being patient against him," Crisp said, "getting his pitch count up early in the game."
Leyland thought it had more to do with Sanchez.
"He was just totally out of sync for whatever reason, I don't know what it was," Leyland said. "Certainly you're allowed to have those. He's been absolutely fantastic and that's one of those games where it just wasn't his day."
NOTES: C Alex Avila of Detroit started his fourth rehab game Monday night for Triple-A Toledo. "I'm not sure if the rule is five days or five games," Leyland said of how long Avila could remain in the minors while rehabbing from a concussion. ... Reddick was put on the disabled list with a right wrist sprain, and the A's recalled 1B Barton. They also designated RHP Pat Neshek for assignment, bringing RHP Evan Scribner back for the fourth time this season. ... RHP Octavio Dotel was bumped up to Triple-A Toledo as he continues to try to return from right elbow problems that have sidelined him since late April. ... A's RHP Bartolo Colon threw a 38-pitch bullpen session with no reports of problems with his ailing groin muscle. Colon is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday and may do so to start against the Tigers.