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Tigers blast Athletics to win series

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Detroit Tigers entered Sunday's series finale against the Oakland A's leading the majors in hitting with a .304 average. They had five starters in their lineup batting at least .310 and one of those, Prince Fielder, leading the majors at .436.

Struggling A's right-hander Jarrod Parker took a 6.48 ERA to the mound, looking for his first win after two rough starts.

The result was predictable.

Detroit rocked Parker for eight runs and nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings and cruised to a 10-1 victory at the Coliseum, winning the series two games to one.

The Tigers, who beat Parker in Games 1 and 5 last season during their American League Division Series win, scored twice in the first inning, twice in the second and four times in the fourth, knocking him out of the game.

"You don't have it every time you go out, and today we might have just caught him at the right time, but he'll get it together," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Parker. "He's good. He's a really good pitcher. We're swinging the bats pretty well, and maybe we just caught him on a little off day."

Just pretty well?

Leadoff hitter Austin Jackson went 4-for-6 with his first home run of the season, three RBIs and three runs scored, raising his average to .386. No. 2 hitter Torii Hunter went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, one RBI and two runs scored. He raised his average to .407.

In all, the Tigers pounded out 14 hits, and every starter except No. 9 hitter Omar Infante had at least one hit.

"Oh man, he's setting the table for those big guys to eat," Hunter said of Jackson. "I'm just trying to serve it up for the big guys. Austin Jackson, he's been awesome at the top of the lineup, getting on base for myself, (Miguel) Cabrera, Prince and Victor (Martinez). He's the one that's setting the tone for all of us. This is what we're capable of when he's getting on base."

Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez won his second straight game and produced his third straight solid start, improving to 2-0. He held the A's to one run on three hits over seven innings, striking out eight and walking four while lowering his ERA to 1.42. He blanked the A's for three innings before they pushed a run across in the fourth.

"Like we always see from him, a good fastball to both sides of the plate and a real good mix of his pitches," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said of Sanchez.

Parker went 13-8 as a rookie last season, but he went 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in five spring training starts and continued struggling once the season began. His record fell to 0-2 Sunday as his ERA soared to 10.80.

"I made a few good pitches and they hit them," Parker said. "I made a few bad pitches and they hit them. I can't dwell on it. It's still early. I threw strikes. They were just up in the strike zone. I'm upset. I'm not happy with what is going on. I just need to go out and play the game."

A's manager Bob Melvin said Parker's struggles have "been puzzling" this season.

"He pounded the strike zone. Maybe he caught more of the plate than he wanted to," Melvin said. "After what we saw of him last year, and his stuff is so good, it's puzzling when he gives up any hits. I'm sure he's not happy with the results. Something is going on, and we need to correct it. He'll make his next start. You have to give him some time."

The Tigers quickly made it clear that Parker wasn't going to get on track against them.

Jackson lined Parker's first pitch of the game for a single to center, igniting a two-run rally. Hunter one-hopped a double off the center-field wall, scoring Jackson. Then with two on and one out, Martinez brought Hunter home with a long single that landed at the base of the right-center wall.

Before taking off, Hunter had to wait to see whether right fielder Josh Reddick would be able to catch Martinez's deep fly. The A's relay to home beat Hunter, but he eluded catcher Derek Norris' tag with a nice hook slide.

The Tigers scored two more runs in the second when Avila hit a lead-off single and Jackson lined a two-run homer over the left-field wall with one out, putting Detroit ahead 4-0.

Hunter, who's in his first season with the Tigers, said he can't remember being part of a lineup that's as dangerous, productive and skilled as this one.

"That's a lot of fun," he said, smiling. "I've had some great teams and teams that get a lot of hits, but they're professional. They get it done. You think these guys are big power guys. You think they just swing and strike out. No. They have great at-bats, intense at-bats. They'll take base hits over homers. This is a good group of guys."

Detroit made it 8-0 in the third, knocking Parker out of the game. After Jackson lined a one-out single to right, Hunter doubled him to third. Cabrera lined Parker's first pitch to left for a two-run single, increasing Detroit's lead to 6-0. Then Fielder lined an RBI double to left center, chasing Parker.

Andy Dirks brought Fielder home with a single off reliever Evan Scribner, making it 8-0.

"He's really playing good," Leyland said of Jackson. "You don't expect him to keep up this pace, but right now he's on fire."

NOTES: Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello, whose start Tuesday at Seattle is being skipped, relieved Sanchez in the eighth and pitched two perfect innings. Leyland said Porcello is still his No. 5 starter, and he has not considered moving him to the bullpen full-time. ... The A's struck out 38 times during the three-game series. ... Tigers right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel had a second straight day off to rest his inflamed pitching elbow. "We'll see how he is after the days off," Leyland said. Relievers Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly were also unavailable because of heavy use earlier in the series. ... A's center fielder and leadoff hitter Coco Crisp took batting practice and ran some sprints but was out of the lineup for a second straight day since straining his left groin Friday night against Detroit. He's day-to-day. John Jaso has hit leadoff in Crisp's absence. ... A's infielder Adam Rosales (strained left rib cage muscle) took batting practice against live pitching for a second straight day Sunday and appears close to being ready for a rehab assignment. "I think the next hurdle for him is turning double plays and making aggressive throws because that's how he did it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Once we feel good about that, he'll go out on a rehab assignment." ... Leyland's No. 1 early-season concern is his bullpen, which has struggled and is "not in sync," he said. "We're still searching around, grabbing straws down there. They're getting their chances. You've got to do something when you get in there."
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