Athletics manage to hold off Tigers in series opener

Daric Barton and Coco Crisp each knocked in a pair of runs as Oakland survived with an 8-6 decision over Detroit in the opener of this four-game series.

Crisp picked up a solo homer among his three hits, while Barton contributed a pair of RBI singles for the Athletics, who also saw Jed Lowrie, Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and Alberto Callaspo drive in a run apiece.

A.J. Griffin (11-9) pitched well enough and long enough to snag the win, allowing seven hits and four runs over five-plus innings. Grant Balfour gave up a run-scoring groundout to Matt Tuiasosopo in the ninth but recorded his 33rd save.

"It was a good battle, It felt like a playoff atmosphere almost," Griffin said.

Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera each slugged a two-run homer, with Victor Martinez totaling four hits including a solo blast for the Tigers,

"Coco had a great game, that's kind of the way it went," Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks said. "They got a couple of big hits when they need them. A few choppers up the middle that maybe could have been double play ground balls, but when you have a night where you score eight, you usually get hits like that."

Jose Alvarez (1-4) was charged with two runs and four hits while recording just one out in the sixth for the AL Central leaders.

Lowrie doubled home Stephen Vogt in the top of the eighth and the A's were ahead 8-4, then Martinez began the home portion with a blast to left for an 8-5 game. As they did in the seventh, the hosts loaded the bases with two outs -- this time on two singles and a walk -- but Ryan Cook fanned Torii Hunter swinging to end the threat.

Balfour served up back-to-back singles to Prince Fielder and Martinez, and both advanced on a passed ball before Tuiasosopo's grounder to third brought in Fielder for a two-run margin. Martinez then went to third on a wild pitch, but Infante grounded to second to end the game.

Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Donaldson RBI single and a Cespedes fielder's choice grounder.

Dirks singled with one down in the home second and Infante followed with a two-run shot to left center.

Crisp began the third with a shot to right for a 3-2 lead, and the A's picked up another run in the fourth after Seth Smith and Callaspo walked with one out and Barton provided a 4-2 edge on a single.

Back the Tigers came in the fifth, when Austin Jackson singled with one down and Cabrera reached the seats in right for a 4-4 deadlock.

Oakland asserted control once more in the sixth once Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez was taken out. Nate Freiman began the frame against Alvarez with a pinch-hit single, Callaspo added a base hit and Barton -- recalled from Triple-A Sacramento -- chased Freiman home with a single. Vogt grounded into a fielder's choice which left runners on the corners and Crisp brought in Callaspo with a base hit.

In the seventh, Moss worked a one-out walk, Freiman walked with two down and Callaspo's base hit made it 7-4 for the A's.

The visitors needed that cushion, as Detroit loaded the bases on a Jackson walk, single from Hunter and Cabrera intentional walk. Sean Doolittle came on for Dan Otero, and induced a long fly to deep center by Fielder for the final out.

Game Notes

Oakland has won four of its last seven games in Detroit ... Griffin had gone 0-2 with a 3.47 ERA in his previous four starts and picked up his first win since July 29 ... Sanchez worked just five full frames, giving up five hits and four runs with three walks and six strikeouts ... Prior to the contest, the A's placed outfielder Josh Reddick on the 15-day disabled list, designated pitcher Pat Neshek for assignment and recalled pitcher Evan Scribner from Triple-A Sacramento ... The A's hold a two-game lead on Cleveland for the final wild card spot.