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Donaldson's homer lifts A's past Tigers in 12

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A pie in the face never felt so good to A's third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Donaldson hit his first career walk-off home run Friday night, a solo shot with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning that lifted the Oakland A's to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers, their ninth straight win.

Minutes later, teammate Josh Reddick did the whipped-cream pie-in-the-face honors.

"It was awesome," Donaldson said.

So was his home run, an opposite-field shot down the right-field line, came off right-hander Brayan Villarreal, whose record fell to 0-2. Before Friday night, Donaldson had never had a walk-off hit of any kind, let alone a home run.

Donaldson said the last time he hit a home run down the right field line was at Triple-A Sacramento.

"I was looking for a fastball. The guy throws pretty hard, throws 94-96," Donaldson said. "Trying to get a fastball, but not be too aggressive on him because last at-bat I just missed one. I felt like I was a little overaggressive. ... I was able to get a decent pitch to hit and hit it pretty hard."

The Tigers and A's met for the first time since the American League Division Series last year when Detroit beat Oakland in five games, winning Game 5 at the Coliseum.

Friday night's win, Donaldson said, felt special.

"Any win is important," he said. "Just (after) what happened last year, obviously I can't speak for the whole team, but it feels a little bit better for me."

Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder slugged a three-run homer in the third inning to go with a double and two singles in a 4-for-5 night.

Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer and A's righty Bartolo Colon both had solid outings, but neither figured in the decision.

Scherzer struck out 11 and allowed just two runs and five hits over six innings and left the game with Detroit leading 3-2. Colon lasted seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out five. He left the game with the score knotted 3-3.

After falling behind 3-0 in the second, the A's battled back and pulled even, scoring a run in the third, sixth and seventh innings.

"They caught up and finally won with a home run," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We've got no complaints about that. They hit the ball over the fence. Wasn't like we walked somebody or threw the ball around or something. The guy hit it over the fence. You got to tip your hat."

The A's cut Detroit's lead to 3-2 in the sixth when Jed Lowrie roped an opposite-field, leadoff double down the left field line and scored on Reddick's single to right. That was it for the A's rally. Scherzer struck out Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss and John Jaso in order to end the inning.

That was also it for Scherzer.

"I was done," Scherzer said. "Just is what it is. I was at 100 pitches and it was the right move."

Left-hander Drew Smyly took over in the seventh, and the A's scored a run to make it 3-3. Donaldson roped a double to right-center, and Coco Crisp brought him home with sharp single to left.

The Tigers nearly moved ahead in the 12th.

With two outs, Tigers second baseman Ramon Santiago sent a deep drive to left off A's left-hander Jerry Blevins that hit the wall and bounded back past Brandon Moss, who had tried to make a leaping catch. The ball just missed going out. By the time Moss caught up to the ball, Santiago was on third base with a triple. But right-hander Chris Resop replaced Blevins and retired Austin Jackson on a fly ball to center.

Cespedes hurt his left hand in the bottom of the eighth while sliding awkwardly into second after being picked off first and caught stealing. After being examined by trainers, he stayed in the game, but he came out for a pinch hitter in the 11th. According to A's manager Bob Melvin, X-rays were negative.

Crisp had left the game after the ninth inning with a strained left groin and is day-to-day. Cespedes moved from left to center and Moss from first to left, while Nate Freiman came off the bench to play first.

The A's bullpen was brilliant Friday night, holding the Tigers scoreless for the final five innings.

The A's got a scoreless eighth from Sean Doolittle, a scoreless ninth from closer Grant Balfour, 10th from Ryan Cook and 11th from Blevins. After Blevins got two outs in the 12th, Resop came on to get the final out in the inning and, as it turned out, the win.

"It's a rare opportunity for us to go so deep," Blevins said. "It's nice to make it a 'W' when you spend that many guys."

Smyly gave up just the one run over 2.1 innings before giving way to Octavio Dotel with one out and none on in the bottom of the ninth. Dotel retired both batters he faced. Darin Downs took over and blanked the A's in the 10th and 11th innings.

The Tigers took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third when Fielder blasted a three-run, two-out homer over the left-center wall off Colon. Colon jumped ahead 1-2 in the count, but his next pitch was a belt-high, 91 mph fastball that caught too much of the plate, and Fielder hit it high and deep, left of the 400-foot mark.

Jackson started the rally with a one-out single to right and moved to second on Andy Dirks' single to right. After Colon retired third baseman Miguel Cabrera on a fly ball to left, Fielder hit his third home run of the season.

"The whole game I felt good," Colon said. "The only problem was that one pitch. I was supposed to throw that ball in a different spot. ... It was right in the middle, up a little bit."

The A's cut Detroit's lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the third. Eric Sogard grounded a leadoff double down the right field line. With one down, Sogard appeared to have run himself into an out when he took off for third, trying to catch Scherzer by surprise. But Scherzer's throw to third sailed wide and caromed off of Cabrera's glove into left field. Sogard was credited with a stolen base and scored on Scherzer's throwing error.

Scherzer faced the A's for the first time since Game 4 of the American League Division Series last season. He allowed just one run -- unearned -- while striking out eight over 5 1/3 innings during that postseason game at the Coliseum. He appeared headed for a victory until former Jose Valverde imploded in the ninth, allowing three runs in the ninth as the A's rallied for 4-3 win.

NOTES: Reddick, who received his 2012 Rawlings Gold Glover Award in a pregame ceremony, returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained right wrist. Eight of Reddick's family members, including his mother (Cheryl) and father (Kenny), traveled from Georgia to Oakland, and were on the field for the ceremony. ... A's infielder Scott Sizemore will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, the team announced. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery in Pensacola, Fla., after examining Sizemore on Monday. He was injured April 9 while catching a fly ball against the Anaheim Angels. Sizemore missed last season after tearing the same ACL during spring training. ... Tigers right fielder Torri Hunter was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season but entered the game in the eighth as a pinch hitter and remained in. He'll start Saturday's game, Leyland said. ... Valverde, who signed a minor-league contract with the Tigers on April 4, pitched a scoreless inning Friday during an extended spring training game against Atlanta in Lakeland, Fla., striking out one and allowing no hits. It was his first appearance in a game since re-signing with the Tigers. Valverde, who went 49-for-49 in save chances in 2011 with Detroit, is attempting to come back after going 35-for-40 last year then giving up nine runs in 2.2 innings during the postseason. ... A's infielder Adam Rosales said he's making good progress from a strained rib cage muscle but has yet to test it against live pitching. "I'm running at 100 percent, swinging at 100 percent, just not against live pitching," he said. Rosales, who has been on the disabled list since March 26, has taken ground balls and has thrown but "still needs a little time" before he's ready to make deep throws from the hole at shortstop.
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