NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Ian Kinsler fielded a sharp groundball, realized he had no play at second, then quickly threw home.READ MORE: Detroit Man Charged In Connection With Son's Fatal Shooting
The moment the ball left his hand, it was an obvious mistake.
The Oakland runner held at third, so Detroit didn’t get anyone out on the play. Two batters later, Ben Zobrist hit a grand slam to cap a five-run seventh inning, and the Athletics went on to beat the Tigers 5-3 on Tuesday night.
“Right now, baseball has a funny way of humbling you, making it tough,” Kinsler said. “We just need to continue to play hard.”
The Tigers have lost a season-high five straight. Last-place Oakland has won four of five.
With the A’s down 3-0, Oakland’s Brett Lawrie led off the seventh with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch, and Marcus Semien hit a one-out grounder that shortstop Jose Iglesias fielded while ranging well to his right. Iglesias flipped the ball toward third to try to get Lawrie, but Nick Castellanos couldn’t handle the bouncing throw.
Eric Sogard followed with a grounder to second, but after moving to his left to field the ball, Kinsler passed up an easy out at first and threw home instead — and the runner stayed at third.
“It was just a complete reaction play,” Kinsler said. “I had to pick up a tough hop and turn toward the outfield, and my first look was at second base, to see if I could get an out there, and I couldn’t. And as I was continuing to move, to throw the ball to first, I saw (Lawrie) take three hard steps, and I just reacted to the play.”
That fielder’s choice loaded the bases, and Billy Burns singled to make it 3-1. Detroit starter Alfredo Simon (5-3) was then pulled, and Zobrist hit a drive to right field off reliever Angel Nesbitt for his first grand slam since 2011.
Replays showed a young fan catching the ball in his glove and then holding it up with his other hand before being hugged by those around him. Then the boy almost immediately began to look distraught, as if the home run’s impact on the Tigers had set in.
Kendall Graveman (3-2) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings. Evan Scribner pitched two perfect innings of relief, and Tyler Clippard finished for his eighth save.
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“It had to turn around,” Zobrist said. “It’s been turning around gradually. We’re fighting and battling to try and get back to the kind of team we know that we are.”
The Tigers were swept by the Los Angeles Angels in a four-game series out west, and they’re in third place in the AL Central after winning the division the last four years. Manager Brad Ausmus juggled the lineup Tuesday, moving Iglesias to the No. 2 spot and dropping Kinsler to fifth.
Detroit scored three runs in the fourth. With the bases loaded and two out, Graveman threw a two-strike wild pitch to bring home the game’s first run. Castellanos then hit a two-run single.
Simon walked two in the first and three in the fourth, but he did not allow a hit until the fifth.
When the A’s gave themselves another chance for a big inning in the seventh, Zobrist came through with the decisive hit.
“He had trouble throwing strikes in the first inning, but after that he threw the ball very well and gave us a chance to win,” Ausmus said. “That’s what you want from your starter.”
Athletics: RP Eric O’Flaherty (shoulder) was reinstated from the DL. … Manager Bob Melvin said LHP Drew Pomeranz (shoulder) should be activated soon and will join the bullpen.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander (triceps) will make a second rehab start with Triple-A Toledo on Saturday. … C Alex Avila (knee) has resumed baseball activities.
Oakland RHP Sonny Gray (6-2) takes on Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-6) on Wednesday night.MORE NEWS: 15-Year-Old Taylor Student Found With Gun After Threat To Security Officer
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