OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Pinch-hitter Shea Langeliers launched a three-run homer in the sixth inning and the Oakland Athletics ended their eight-game losing streak with an 8-2 win over Detroit on Friday night, spoiling another milestone for Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera.
All-Star Brent Rooker hit his 29th home run for the last-place A’s (47-107), who won for the first time since Sept. 12 and avoided tying the team’s Oakland-era record for most losses in a season.
“Great at-bat by Shea coming off the bench,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Shea’s caught more games than he has in any prior season. Today was a day that I felt like we might be able to give him a blow but that at-bat came, I felt really confident about Shea going up with that matchup. It worked out.”
Cabrera, the two-time MVP who plans to retire at season’s end, hit his 624th career double off starter Ken Waldichuk in the fourth, tying Hank Aaron for the 13th most in major league history. It was the 3,168th hit of Cabrera’s career, 16th all-time.
Still, the Tigers (72-82) were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the night when Minnesota clinched the AL Central title.
Waldichuk (4-8) tied his season high with seven strikeouts and allowed two runs and four hits in six innings for his first win as a starter since May 6. Two of his other wins came in relief.
Lucas Erceg, Dany Jiménez and Zach Neal each retired three batters to complete the five-hitter.
“Ken’s made so much progress ,” Kotsay said. “From where Ken started in April and May to where he is now, that’s what we were looking for. He’s got one more start left. Building that momentum into next year is always a positive.”
That the A’s are still showing some fight this late in a rough season is an encouraging sign.
“The talk around the locker room right now is we know this season we’re out of it, we’re trying to build something for next year,” Waldichuk said. “Next year hopefully out of the gates we take what we’ve learned these past couple of months or so and we try to build some momentum so that maybe next year we’re able to find some success early on and ride that.”
The A’s scored a run in the first off Tigers starter Sawyer Gipson-Long but couldn’t manage much else offensively until Tigers manager A.J. Hinch made a pitching change after five innings with Detroit ahead 2-1.
Rooker hit the first pitch from reliever Will Vest (2-1) over the fence in center for a tying home run.
“That’s about as clean as I can hit a ball,” Rooker said. “I got a fastball in the middle, put a good swing on it, it was on time, and to do it in a big spot like that to tie the game and get us going felt better.”
Tony Kemp reached on a fielding error by shortstop Javier Báez, rolled his right ankle and slowly trotted to second on Lawrence Butler’s single to right. After a strikeout, Langeliers hit a 2-0 fastball from Tyler Holton into the left-field stands.
Esteury Ruiz had a two-run single in the seventh to make it 7-2. Butler added a sacrifice fly.
Gipson-Long worked around three walks and allowed one run and four hits in five innings of his third major league start. The right-hander retired 10 of 11 during one stretch, then pitched out of a jam in the fifth when he got Seth Brown to fly out to center with the bases loaded.
FINALLY A LEAD
During their long losing streak the A’s had never led but broke that stretch quickly on Ryan Noda’s leadoff single in the first followed by rookie Zack Gelof’s RBI double into the left field corner. It was Gelof’s 20th single in 61 games since being called up after the All-Star break.
Tigers: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, who left his previous start early due to back spasms, threw a bullpen session before the game and take his regular turn in the rotation Sunday in the series finale.
Athletics: Kemp was removed from the game and diagnosed with a right ankle sprain. … OF J.J. Bleday (knee) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Athletics rookie RHP Joe Boyle (0-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his second career start Saturday against Detroit. The Tigers have not named a starter.
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