OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Eric Chavez had no idea what kind of
hitter he would be after missing a month with a broken hand.
He has quickly shown he's the same player who earned a six-year
contract extension worth $66 million during spring training -- the
biggest deal in Oakland franchise history.
Chavez hit a three-run homer and Barry Zito won for the third
time in four starts in the Athletics' 5-4 victory over the Detroit
Tigers on Tuesday night.
The A's ended a five-game homerless drought and won their third
straight and fourth in five. Several Oakland players were dealing
with minor muscle aches after playing 27 innings in 27 hours the
previous two days, including Sunday's 18-inning victory in
Chavez sent a 1-0 pitch from Tigers starter Jason Johnson into
the right-field bleachers with one out in the third. Mark Kotsay
hit a one-out double, then Mark McLemore reached on Omar Infante's
error at second.
It was Chavez's 21st homer this year and eighth since coming off
the disabled list July 9. He came in batting .385 lifetime with two
homers against Johnson.
Chavez was concerned he wouldn't be able to be more than a
singles hitter after the injury -- but that certainly hasn't been
the case. He has historically been a strong second-half player for
a team known for its surges after the All-Star break.
"I'm pretty happy with the way everything's gone," Chavez
said. "I couldn't ask for much more. When I came back, I didn't
know if I was going to be able to hit. I was sort of having those
doubts. I started squeaking out some hits and getting those
loopers, getting myself some time to get my hand in pretty good
shape. Right now, it's 100 percent."
The A's are back home for a six-game homestand following a 7-4
road trip against the Rangers, Yankees and Twins, which some
players considered their best road effort all year. Oakland
extended its AL West lead to 2½ games, its largest margin since
Because of all the extra work the bullpen got Sunday, manager
Ken Macha was hoping Zito could go deep into the game -- and the
lefty delivered with seven strong innings.
Zito (8-8), who had his season-best winning streak snapped at
three with a 5-1 loss to the Yankees last Thursday in New York, got
through the first inning in 12 pitches with two strikeouts. He
didn't let a baserunner past second until Dmitri Young doubled
leading off the fourth and scored.
Zito allowed three runs and five hits, struck out five and
"My last three games have been pretty good," Zito said. "The
runs I've given up haven't been indicative of how I've pitched. My
stuff's been good."
The Tigers loaded the bases against Justin Lehr in the eighth on
two singles and a walk, then Rondell White hit a sacrifice fly to
make it 5-4. Craig Monroe grounded into a double play to end the
Octavio Dotel finished with a perfect ninth for his 10th save in
14 tries with Oakland.
Detroit got on the board on Monroe's fourth-inning sacrifice
fly, then Carlos Guillen had an RBI groundout in the fifth -- a much
different story than two days earlier when the Tigers hit seven
home runs in an 11-9 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Johnson (8-10) walked Scott Hatteberg for the third time to
start the sixth, then gave up singles to Erubiel Durazo and Byrnes.
Marco Scutaro doubled two batters later to chase Johnson, who lost
his second straight start and third in five.
Johnson fell to 1-7 in 12 career starts against the A's.
"I left a fastball up (to Chavez), just like I did most of the
game, and he doesn't miss pitches like that," Johnson said.
"That's why he's a good hitter. I didn't throw a good pitch all
night. From pitch one, I couldn't find my release point. Everything
I threw was up in the zone, and when I did get it down it was
"Nothing worked and I paid for it."
Oakland took a 1-0 lead when Hatteberg scored from third on
Johnson's wild pitch in the second.
Byrnes was caught stealing for the first time in 11 tries this
season when he got thrown out at third in the sixth.
Chavez has gone 38 straight games without an error at
third, one shy of his career best that he set April 27-June 27,
1999. ... Oakland is 4-1 in a 10-game stretch against the AL
Central. ... Infante extended his season-best hitting streak to
nine games with a third-inning single. ... Tigers 2B Fernando Vina
is out for the season with a partial tendon tear in his left knee.
Vina has been on the DL since May 12. It hasn't been determined if
he needs surgery. ... Durazo was 3-for-4 with a double.