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Originally published October 8, 2013 at 8:40 PM | Page modified October 9, 2013 at 12:46 AM

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Detroit beats Oakland to force deciding Game 5

The Detroit Tigers rallied past the Oakland Athletics 8-6 to force a deciding fifth game in their American League Division Series.


The Associated Press

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DETROIT – On a night of desperation, dispute and finally, delirium, Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers kept their season alive by the slimmest of margins.

A tying home run, helped along by a couple of fans in right field.

A full-count pitch with the bases loaded that was low and inside, but became strike three when the batter swung.

A line drive down the line with the bases still full — foul by a few feet.

During a relief outing to remember, Scherzer escaped a major jam one inning after two fans reached out to try to reel in Victor Martinez’s disputed home run, and the Tigers rallied past the Oakland Athletics 8-6 on Tuesday to force a deciding fifth game in their American League Division Series.

Scherzer was in line to start Game 5, but the 21-game winner came on Tuesday instead for his first relief appearance since the 2011 postseason. He wriggled out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the eighth inning and got the victory.

“We took our best shot and we had to because we were behind the 8-ball a little bit,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We took that shot and, hey, both teams are going to have a good pitcher going two days from now.”

After avoiding elimination, the Tigers can send Justin Verlander to the mound Thursday night in Oakland. The A’s haven’t announced a Game 5 starter. It is Bartolo Colon’s turn in the postseason rotation, but rookie Sonny Gray could come back after a brilliant performance in Game 2.

“We haven’t decided anything yet,” said Oakland manager Bob Melvin, an ex-Mariners skipper.

Playing catch-up much of the way in Game 4, the Tigers tied the score first with Jhonny Peralta’s three-run homer in the fifth inning and then on Martinez’s solo shot in the seventh. Two fans tried to catch Martinez’s drive, and at least one bobbled the ball as he reached over a railing above the wall.

That prevented A’s right fielder Josh Reddick from having any chance at a leaping grab. Reddick and center fielder Coco Crisp immediately protested, pointing up at the stands in the hope of a fan-interference call. But umpires upheld the home run after a replay review.

“I have no doubt I was going to catch that ball. When I looked at the replay, that’s what I thought,” Reddick said.

“It’s totally frustrating that a fan can influence the game.”

Gary Darling, the crew chief, was umpiring in right field. He disagreed, even after the replay.

“It was clear he (Reddick) was not going to catch the ball, so it was clearly going to be a home run,” Darling said. “There wasn’t any other evidence on replay to turn it another way.”

With the bases full and none out in the eighth, Scherzer struck out Reddick — who swung and missed at what would have been ball four on a low, inside pitch. Stephen Vogt struck out, too. Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo’s line drive to left nearly fell in before landing foul; he eventually lined out to center for the third out.

“It was surreal,” said Scherzer, the winning pitcher in both Detroit victories this series. “Maybe it’s not the ninth inning, but that’s the stuff you dream about pitching — bases loaded, eighth inning, no outs and I was able to do it.”



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