Coco Crisp sprinted in from deep center field to put himself in position to make a basket catch that would end the seventh inning with the Oakland Athletics clinging to a one-run lead.
Instead, the ball off Miguel Cabrera's bat hit the heel of Crisp's glove, popped in and out of the mitt's webbing and left him trying to snag it with his bare hand on a third attempt to make a key play.
Crips couldn't get a grip and the Detroit Tigers took advantage with two runs that helped them beat Oakland 5-4 Sunday and take a 2-0 lead in their AL division series.
"I had to make a decision between turning my glove over and going for the basket catch or trying to slide into the ball," Crisp said. "I've made the catch both ways, and obviously this time, I made the wrong decision."
The Athletics will face elimination in Game 3 on Tuesday. Oakland will host the next three games, if necessary — baseball is using a 2-3 format in the division series because there wasn't enough time to have an extra travel day with an extra wild-card team in both leagues.
After Crisp's error, Oakland responded with two runs in the eighth to get the lead back — on a wild pitch and Josh Reddick's solo homer — but blew it again in the home half before losing the possibly pivotal game in the ninth inning.
Reliever Ryan Cook got two outs in the eighth, but threw a wild pitch that allowed Don Kelly to score and make it 4-all.
Kelly ended the game in the ninth with a sacrifice fly off closer Grant Balfour that scored Omar Infante and put the A's in a tough spot.
Oakland hopes it can draw on its comeback experience from late in the regular season.
The AL West champions became the first team in baseball history to win a division or pennant after being behind by at least five games with fewer than 10 games left, capping the remarkable rally with a three-game sweep against Texas that erased a two-game deficit.
"We're not packing it in. We don't do that, or we wouldn't be here," Oakland second baseman Cliff Pennington said. "We'll keep fighting until we're done, one way or the other. We've been doing this all year."