Payton hits key homer to help A's defeat Tigers

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Eric Chavez's return to the lineup
coincided with a boost in Oakland's offense and defense. Jay Payton
was one of the beneficiaries.

Payton hit his 100th career homer, a three-run shot in the
sixth, and Joe Blanton pitched seven strong innings to help the
Athletics end a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over
the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.

"Chavy is a great player and it's hard to replace his glove or
bat," Blanton said. "He definitely makes our defense and hitting
stronger. You have to feel more comfortable when he's out there."

Chavez, who missed three games with soreness in his right
foreman, went 1-for-4 -- his single sparking the winning rally -- and
made a nice defensive play in the eighth to save a run.

Neither Chavez nor Payton were available after the game. Chavez
had family issues to deal with, while Payton dashed out of the
clubhouse trying to beat the sellout crowd there for fireworks.

"Payton is leading our team in hitting right now," A's manager
Ken Macha said. "I'd say he's been doing well. Getting Chavez back
in the lineup means a lot to us, especially defensively. He swung
the bat well, too."

Blanton (8-7) won for the third time in four decisions. He gave
up three runs and nine hits, striking out one and did not walk a
batter. He retired 10 in a row at one point.

"I got into a groove there and felt more comfortable in the
later innings," Blanton said. "My offspeed pitches got better,

Justin Duchscherer pitched the eighth and Huston Street recorded
his 19th save with a scoreless ninth.

The Tigers lost for the second time in three games but have
still won eight of 10 and 18 of 22.

Nate Robertson (8-4) took just his second loss since April 17.
He allowed five runs and seven hits over seven innings, walking
four and striking out three. He was the first Tigers starter to get
a loss in a span of 24 games.

"He had a good outing," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He
got a slider up and Payton hit it out and that's pretty much the

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second when Carlos Guillen led
off with a double and scored on Craig Monroe's single. Guillen's
24th double put him a tie for fifth in the AL.

Bobby Crosby's two-run single in the third gave the A's a 2-1
lead. Robertson walked Jason Kendall and Nick Swisher around a
single by Mark Ellis to load the bases for Crosby.

"Tonight was kind of night we were built for," Crosby said.
"Pitching and defense and we're going to score some runs. I think
it was a typical A's game and A's win."

The Tigers tied it in the fifth on Placido Polanco's two-out
double and regained the lead when Marcus Thames hit his 17th homer,
a solo shot with two outs in the sixth.

Chavez led off the Oakland sixth with a single and Frank Thomas
walked. Payton hit Robertson's first pitch just inside the foul
pole to give the A's a 5-3 lead.

"I walked three of the five runs they scored," Robertson said.
"You can't walk guys. I had the lead on two different occasions
and I didn't hold onto it."

Mark Kotsay extended his career-high hitless streak to 29
at-bats after going 0-for-4.

Game notes
Tigers RHP Justin Verlander is one of the AL finalists for
the last spot on the all-star team, which will be determined by fan
voting. ... A's RHP Rich Harden did not respond well to a throwing
session on Sunday and will be shut down for a week. ... A's RHP Jay
Witasick is throwing long toss while recovering from left ankle
tendinitis. ... Tigers RHP Joel Zumaya has a 1.67 ERA and 39
strikeouts over his last 28 appearances. ... Guillen has hit safely
in 15 of his last 17 games. ... The A's recorded their seventh
sellout of the season thanks in part to a postgame fireworks show.
... Thomas drew his 1,499th walk, tying him with Eddie Collins for
16th all-time.