Kotsay, A's rally past Tigers

Kotsay, A's rally past Tigers

DETROIT -- The A's have had plenty of practice playing topsy-turvy games this season. Often the roller coaster thrills have come in the latter innings, but Saturday's drop and ascent came early.

Oakland starter Joe Blanton gave up five runs in the first inning, but he avoided further damage in his remaining four frames as the A's rallied past the Tigers, 9-5, in Detroit.

Blanton's 20th start of the season was also the seventh in which he has allowed five or more runs in an outing this year.

"Obviously it's not the best thing in the world, but I've been there before, so it's kind of like I've been through that," Blanton said. "I know you can always battle back and make something of your outing."

Blanton also took comfort in knowing that his pitches were hit by a talented Detroit lineup.

"I thought most of them were fairly decent pitches," Blanton said. "Give them a lot of credit. They've got a great lineup over there. A lot of singles were finding holes and they were decent pitches, so give their first hitters credit to start up the game."

After Blanton's rough first inning, Oakland's first three hitters singled to start the second inning, and a sacrifice fly by Mark Ellis scored Frank Thomas for the visitors' first run. Two batters, later Jason Kendall's single tallied another run. Then Mark Kotsay came to the plate.

Kotsay, the AL's reigning Player of the Week, stepped into the batter's box hitless in his 11 previous at-bats. That streak came to an end when Kotsay hit a 2-1 pitch deep to left field for a game-tying home run.

"Obviously I was disappointed that was my only hit today, but in the big picture, it's better to have that hit than not have any at all," Kotsay said. "I had a good series in Boston, then I got smoked in the head. I was just trying to get my feet back comfortable underneath me in the box."

Afterward, Kotsay admitted he is still recovering after being hit by Orioles right-hander Russ Ortiz on Tuesday.

"It would affect any hitter if you get hit in the head -- a 91-mph cutter in my ear hole that left part of the helmet in the side of my neck," Kotsay said. "I can't open my jaw wide enough to get a hot dog in.

"It was a tough pitch, and by no means did he mean to do it. It's just one of those things, as a hitter it takes awhile to get your spikes underneath you again."

Revived by Kotsay's game-tying blast, Blanton retired eight of 10 Detroit batters.

"When we put a five-spot, it was a new game and I knew I had to lock it in and keep us in the game," Blanton said. "Once that happened I knew we were going to score runs, so I knew if I kept it kind of right there, maybe the way we were swinging it today, we were going to get a couple more."

Saturday's score remained tied at 5 until the fifth inning when Ellis hit another sacrifice fly. Thomas scored again, and the A's took a 6-5 lead.

"He brings so much to our team, but speed is not one of those things," Ellis said of Thomas. "He was out there, and I hit them and I said, 'Oh, I hope that's deep enough.' I didn't know if they were deep enough, maybe just enough. He made it so I was happy to see that."

Milton Bradley's one-out homer in the sixth helped Oakland to an 8-5 advantage.

Recently, the A's have been strained by late-inning rallies. Almost half (11 of 24 games) of the team's contests during the last month have been decided in the seventh inning or later.

But although they are accustomed to comebacks, Kotsay and teammates will take the offense whenever they can get.

"The team showed a lot of heart, a lot of character," Kotsay said. "We didn't bury our heads. Offensively we all kind of rallied around each other that inning and guys had good at-bats and carried that momentum throughout the game."

Sam Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.