Oakland, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Athletics rookie Sonny Gray matched 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander in a pitching duel, and Oakland squeaked out the game's only run in the bottom of the ninth inning to even its American League Division Series with the Tigers.
Stephen Vogt delivered the game-winning single off Rick Porcello to give the A's the 1-0 victory in Game 2 of the series.
The sixth rookie in Oakland history to start a postseason game, Gray piled up nine strikeouts over eight innings. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up four hits and a pair of walks.
Verlander had 11 strikeouts over his seven-inning effort.
The A's bounced back from a 3-2 loss Friday.
Game 3 of this best-of-five series is Monday afternoon in Detroit.
Yoenis Cespedes singled to left field off Al Alburquerque (0-1) to start the bottom of the ninth. Seth Smith then lined a base hit to right past a leaning Prince Fielder at first base. Josh Reddick was intentionally walked. Porcello then came in, but Vogt lined a ball past the outstretched glove of shortstop Jose Iglesias into left-center field for his first career game-winning hit.
"Runs seem to get tougher to come by when you go deeper and deeper into the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You had two starting pitchers that were electric tonight and they were going to put up zeros. They were going to make big pitches when they had to, but it felt like a game that was going to be a battle of attrition."
The Tigers have been blanked in the last 17 innings.
Verlander, who won Games 1 and 5 last year in the ALDS against the A's, was masterful early. He had seven strikeouts over the first four innings.
Gray, who threw 111 pitches, six less than Verlander, was equal to the task. Gray, the fourth pitcher in Oakland history under the age of 24 to start a postseason game, worked out of trouble in the second inning. With men on first and second, he retired Iglesias on a force play.
"Sonny did one heck of a job," Verlander commented. "He was able to use his angst and energy for a positive and a lot of young guys it works against them. That's why veterans usually seem to do better in postseason pressure. He handled himself like a veteran and it was impressive."
The Tigers put men at the corners with one out in the fifth, but Gray fanned Austin Jackson and Iglesias was thrown out trying to steal second on the same play.
"It's a testament to the kid he is, I think," Vogt said of Gray. "I have had the ability to catch him a majority of the year, Triple-A and the big leagues, and he's been the same kid every day. Even today we were joking around like we always do. You could tell in the bullpen he was going to have a great night."
Eric Sogard struck out swinging to cap the bottom of the fifth, when the A's left a pair on base.
The A's had two men in scoring position in the seventh, but Vogt struck out to cap the frame.
Both teams had a runner in scoring position in the eighth. Gray caught Jackson looking at strike three, and Torii Hunter popped out. In the bottom half, Alburquerque put out the fire. Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo doubled to the left-field corner, and Drew Smyly walked Jed Lowrie with one out. Alburquerque struck out Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss.
Grant Balfour (1-0) retired the side in order in the top of the ninth.
Don Kelly had two of Detroit's four hits ... The A's left 10 men on base ... Jarrod Parker starts for the A's on Monday opposite Anibal Sanchez ... Lowrie is 0-for-13 over his last seven postseason games after going 6-for-25 over his first seven contests ... Verlander has thrown 22 straight scoreless innings against the A's in the postseason ... Detroit's Miguel Cabrera has reached base safely in all 26 of his playoff games.