<
>

Swisher's two-homer night sparks A's to win over Tigers

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- With rookie Justin Verlander firing in pitches at 101 mph, Nick Swisher knew he had to stick to one approach to have any chance at success.

"It's paying off," Swisher said of his plan at the plate.

Swisher hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh for his second drive of the game, leading the Oakland Athletics to a 4-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

Swisher also had a two-run homer in the second inning, the second time this season he's hit two in a game and the fourth in his career. Swisher has six homers, tying him with Eric Chavez for the team lead.

"I'm being a lot more consistent, trying to make every swing look the same," said Swisher, who is riding a nine-game hitting streak. "I'm doing what the situation calls for and trying not to do too much."

Justin Duchscherer (1-0) pitched two innings for the victory, helping the A's win for only the second time in their last seven games. Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in five chances, bouncing back from Sunday's loss in which his consecutive saves streak ended at 21 games.

Street, who hadn't blown a save since last July 10, was eager to get back in a game.

"You want to get back out there and prove to your teammates and yourself that you can still do it," he said.

The Tigers began a nine-game trip against the AL West -- three each at Oakland, Seattle and Los Angeles -- with another frustrating loss a day after manager Jim Leyland launched a postgame tirade following a 10-2 home loss to the Cleveland Indians.

He said Tuesday the outburst would be left in the past.

"Everything hasn't been hunkey dorey," said Leyland, who replaced the fired Alan Trammell after last season. "It hasn't been good enough, or I wouldn't be here. ... It wasn't Alan Trammell's fault."

Leyland didn't like what he saw in the fourth, when shortstop Carlos Guillen committed two throwing errors leading to an unearned run. Frank Thomas singled to start the inning, then advanced on Guillen's first mistake. Thomas scored three batters later on Guillen's wild throw toward first while trying to turn a double play.

Ivan Rodriguez hit a two-out RBI double in the sixth, then
Magglio Ordonez tied the game with a bloop single to shallow right
that scored Rodriguez moments later for a Detroit team that won its
first five games but has since lost seven of its last nine.

Mark Ellis returned to the A's lineup after getting the previous
three games off to work on his swing and ended an 0-for-15 slump
with a double leading off the third. He followed with a
fifth-inning single after entering the game batting .167 with two
RBI.

"I felt really good," Ellis said. "I saw the ball well.
Sometimes you just walk in there and see the ball well."

Curtis Granderson started the game with a triple off the
left-field wall that Jay Payton got a glove on but couldn't handle.
Placido Polanco followed with an RBI single to center.

A's starter Esteban Loaiza didn't allow another hit until Chris
Shelton's infield single to start the fifth, retiring 11 of 12
during that span.

Loaiza, who started the 300th game of his career, called it a
"big relief" to pitch well after losing his first two outings
with the A's.

Swisher hit both homers against Verlander (1-2), who struck out
seven and walked three in seven strong innings. The rookie
right-hander, making his first career appearance against the A's,
threw 121 pitches and several of those were clocked at 100 mph.

"You blink and the ball's in the mitt," said Swisher, who
struck out in the fourth. "He struck me out with a 101 mph
fastball. I was there in person, I saw it. I didn't see it. I heard
it whiz past me."

Verlander wanted another chance to throw the first home run
pitch to Swisher.

"I tried to guide it in there and I guided it right down the
middle of the plate," Verlander said. "If there's one pitch I'd
like back it's that one. That was the biggest pitch of the game."

Game notes
Detroit RHP closer Todd Jones, on the disabled list with a
pulled left hamstring, threw 20 pitches in a simulated game and
said it went well. Jones is slated to throw again Wednesday,
perhaps going up to 25 pitches. He hopes to be activated Friday at
Seattle, but Leyland wouldn't commit to that. "I think this
weekend," Leyland said. "Maybe by Seattle. We've got some big
hurdles to climb with him yet. We'll see how he feels tomorrow."
... Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .312
(185-for-593) with 21 home runs and 83 RBI in 149 career games
against the A's. ... Struggling A's 1B Dan Johnson likely won't
play until Thursday, getting a couple of days to work on his
problems at the plate. ... Swisher's other two-homer game this year
came last Wednesday at Minnesota.