Suzuki delivers walk-off blow vs. Tigers

Suzuki delivers walk-off blow vs. Tigers

OAKLAND -- Adam Kennedy admits Saturday's battle with Detroit didn't start out "pretty" -- for himself, or the team.

Kurt Suzuki would probably agree.

Luckily for the A's, who stranded a combined five runners in the second inning, every beginning -- no matter how ugly -- has an end. And Saturday's end resulted in a more-than-pretty finish.

Of course, what made Saturday's story-book ending -- a 3-2 victory over Detroit -- all the more glorious was the fact it was Kennedy and Suzuki, along with catalyst Rajai Davis, who made the magic happen in front of 26,266 at the Coliseum.

In the ninth inning knotted at 2, Kennedy led off with a single against the Tigers' Zach Miner (5-4) for his third hit of the night. Davis then set down a perfectly placed bunt less than a minute later, setting up what turned out to be Suzuki's sixth career walk-off hit -- a hard-hit single to left field that brought Kennedy home on a close call at the plate.

"Once I rounded the bag, I was watching the play and should have been trying to get to second," the A's catcher said. "It was a complete effort. That hit kind of takes the monkey off the back. I've had chances in big situations and haven't been coming through, so it's a nice feeling when you get that big hit."

Kennedy, feeling the same sense of pressure at the plate as of late, surprised himself with a 3-for-5 night after going 8-for-36 in his previous eight games.

"I kept grinding away," the third baseman said. "Hits give you confidence. When you keep getting guys on base and have more chances, the more confident you'll feel. Keep going, and it will come."

The A's had their fair share of chances on Saturday in the second game of a three-game set against Jim Leyland's Tigers. The A's stranded 11 on the night, downplaying a tremendous effort by starter Trevor Cahill.

The A's righty, who entered the contest 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA over his past five starts, gave his team seven strong innings of work -- surrendering two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four.

"A team win is all that matters," said Cahill, who took the no-decision. "I don't worry about [my record] too much, it's all good. My goal is to go out and pitch as many innings as I can.

"The bullpen's been doing a great job, but they're probably also getting tired, so my job is to help them, too."

The rookie pitcher has received run support of two runs or fewer in 14 of his 26 starts and is 0-8 in those starts. Manager Bob Geren, however, knows Cahill is better than the story being written by his numbers.

So do other managers, including Leyland.

"We had a chance in the first, but he settled down after that," Leyland said. "He went to his changeup quite a bit against left-handers. He pitched well and did a good job."

The same can be said of Oakland's tireless bullpen, which delivered two scoreless innings of work, courtesy of Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey, who grabbed his sixth win of the season after putting up a ninth-inning zero on the board.

On the opposing end, Detroit starter Armando Galarraga went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs -- both coming in the second inning thanks to Daric Barton's sacrifice fly and an RBI base hit off the bat of Cliff Pennington -- while allowing seven hits and two walks.

"Their pitcher struggled early in the game," Cahill offered of Galarraga. "He settled in, and I was impressed how deep he went into the game."

Maybe so, but it's safe to say Cahill was even more impressed with his own teammates' efforts in the dramatic ninth inning, as was his manager.

"What I really liked was the situational hitting," Geren said. "We're playing the game the right way, and it's fun to watch.

"The excitement level was way up with so many fans there tonight. Obviously with a great turnout like that, you want to do something special."

Call it special. Call it pretty. Either way, the walk-off win gives a struggling team a chance to avoid losing its third consecutive series with Sunday's rubber match up for grabs.

It also gives a struggling hitter a little extra something, as well.

"[Suzuki] has been pressing a lot and trying too hard," Geren said. "Hopefully this will boost his confidence a bit."

Jane Lee is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.