DETROIT - Don Kelly hopes to make his forgettable personal season something to remember.
Kelly, a postseason-roster afterthought in some quarters after a .186 regular season, scored the tying run from third base on a wild pitch in the eighth inning Sunday, then drove home the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth to give Detroit a 5-4 victory over Oakland and a 2-0 lead in their American League Division series.
The A's face a must-win Game 3 in Oakland on Tuesday night to keep the best-of-five series going with the fourth and fifth games, if necessary, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
Kelly was designated for assignment earlier this season and sent outright to Triple-A Toledo when nobody claimed him off waivers. He was brought back when rosters expanded Sept. 1 and selected by manager Jim Leyland over Brennan Boesch for the postseason because of his pinch-running skills, ability to play multiple defensive positions well and because he's a left-handed bat off the bench. Boesch's playing time diminished to almost nothing over the last three weeks because he wasn't hitting.
"That's what a team's all about," Leyland said, "everybody making contributions."
Leyland sent Kelly in to run after DH Delmon Young led off the eighth inning with a single to center. Jhonny Peralta singled Kelly to second and Andy Dirks sacrificed them up a base to put the tying run at third with one out and Oakland holding a 4-3 lead.
Quintin Berry, 21-for-21 stealing bases in the regular season, wasn't used as a pinch-runner because Leyland figured he'd be batting later in the inning for rookie Avisail Garcia, "which is what I ended up doing."
Leyland then hit Alex Avila for Gerald Laird. He didn't hit Avila for Garcia because "I wasn't sure if they'd walk Alex if I hit him first. I thought Berry had a better chance of slapping the ball instead of striking out, which is what he did."
But A's reliever Ryan Cook let loose a wild pitch with Avila at the plate and two out, and Kelly scampered in with the tying run.
"We'll take it," said Kelly, who had a good 2011 postseason. "Postseason baseball is much more intense. We've been through it. We've been able to grind through it."
Omar Infante singled with one out in the ninth off A's closer Grant Balfour. Miguel Cabrera came up for the second time in the game with runners in scoring position and for the second time reached base. His single to center sent Infante to third. Prince Fielder was walked intentionally to load the bases and up came Kelly.
He took the first pitch, a curve, for a strike and then got a fastball that he drove deep enough to right that Infante was able to score without a throw.
"I was looking fastball," Kelly said. "The second pitch was a fastball and I took a good swing and got it. I was able to get it deep enough."
Oakland capitalized on another eighth-inning breakdown by Detroit setup man Joaquin Benoit, who was 4-4 after the All-Star break with a 5.52 ERA in 33 games. He gave up 14 home runs all year.
Benoit was protecting a 3-2 Detroit lead entering the eighth. Yoenis Cespedes singled to right immediately, and with one out, he stole second and third. Benoit threw a wild changeup with Josh Reddick at the plate, and Cespedes ran in with the tying run.
Benoit came back with another changeup, and Reddick, who had struck out six times in the series, lashed the high pitch into the right field seats to give Oakland a 4-3 lead.
Cabrera came up in the seventh with Austin Jackson and Infante on base after they had hit two-out singles off Sean Doolittle. Cabrera hit a soft fly to center that Coco Crisp dropped for a two-run error, giving Detroit a 3-2 lead.
"He breaks back and then has to recover," manager Bob Melvin of Oakland said. "He covered a lot of ground to get back there. That ball's bouncing as far as your eyes go.
"He tried to make a basket catch that just bounced out of his glove. I mean, we're talking about an extremely good center fielder."
Oakland broke a 1-1 tie on Cliff Pennington's RBI single off Doug Fister. The A's got the game's first run in the third inning on a Cespedes RBI single to left, but Garcia threw out Crisp at the plate trying to score on Brandon Moss' single to right.
Cabrera, who doubled his first two times up, got to third on Prince Fielder's line single to left with one out in the bottom of the third and scored when Young grounded out to first.
Tommy Milone was outstanding for Oakland, striking out six and allowing five hits in six innings. He came out after 100 pitches.
Fister fanned eight and gave up six hits in seven innings, throwing 107 pitches. His two walks led off the fourth and seventh innings, the first times all season he has walked the leadoff hitter.
NOTES: Melvin won't announce his Tuesday pitcher until his A's get back to Oakland on Monday because he wants to see how lefty Brett Anderson feels. "Brett feels good," Melvin said. "We'd like to be able to pitch him in Game 3. It's mostly how he feels. We want to get him in a game as soon as we can." ... Winning Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque irritated some A's when he kissed the baseball before he threw to first after he caught Cespedes' one-hopper back to the mound to end the ninth with runners on first and third. ... Losing pitcher Balfour had appeared in five straight games and worked five three-batter innings to close the regular season for Oakland.