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Tigers jump out early, but defense, 'pen falter

Hicks' error in fourth extends inning, leading to three A's runs
MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers let a six-run lead slip away against the Athletics on Tuesday night at Comerica Park. Sometimes, it was a bandage being ripped off quickly, like when Chad Pinder hit a two-run home run in the fifth. Other times it was a slower burn, like when the A's strung together four hits to go ahead in the ninth.

All told, everything was enough to erase what had appeared to be a comfortable 6-0 lead and flipped it to a 9-7 loss.

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DETROIT -- The Tigers let a six-run lead slip away against the Athletics on Tuesday night at Comerica Park. Sometimes, it was a bandage being ripped off quickly, like when Chad Pinder hit a two-run home run in the fifth. Other times it was a slower burn, like when the A's strung together four hits to go ahead in the ninth.

All told, everything was enough to erase what had appeared to be a comfortable 6-0 lead and flipped it to a 9-7 loss.

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After winning five in a row against the Twins and White Sox on the road, the Tigers have now lost seven straight.

This one had a distinct turning point, too. Blaine Hardy was working through another strong showing, something he's done often, helping patch up a Tigers pitching staff hampered by injuries. He was one out away from leaving the fourth with no runs allowed, when first baseman John Hicks dropped a routine throw from Niko Goodrum at shortstop. It was a costly mistake, as the A's posted three runs, all unearned, to narrow their deficit to 6-3.

Video: OAK@DET: Piscotty reaches first on missed catch error

Stephen Piscotty hit a grounder to Goodrum at shortstop. Goodrum fielded the ball and threw what appeared to be a routine throw to Hicks at first. But he didn't catch it.

"It just kept carrying," Hicks said. "I was going down, getting ready to pick it, and when it stayed up I tried to come up and I just handcuffed myself."

Theoretically, Hardy could have gotten just one more out and nobody would be talking about Hicks' error, expect maybe to joke about it. Instead, Mark Canha hit a ground-rule double to left to score one run, and Jonathan Lucroy hit a two-run double to stamp Hardy with three unearned runs.

Video: OAK@DET: Lucroy hammers double to score 2 in the 4th

"That gave them life," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They definitely got back in the game quickly. You know what? They smelled it. They kept coming, and we couldn't stop it."

Even after those three runs, Detroit was working with a sizeable cushion. Nicholas Castellanos and Goodrum doubled in the first as part of a four-run inning. The Tigers, who hadn't scored more than four runs since last Tuesday against Cincinnati, added two more in the third with a two-run triple from Dixon Machado to make it a 6-0 game.

Video: OAK@DET: Machado plates a pair with a hard-hit triple

The Tigers padded their lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single from Hicks, but the A's continued to jump on Hardy in the fifth with three more runs to make it 7-6, enough to chase him before he got an out in the inning.

Hardy said the error had an impact on him.

"Today, it affected me more than it should have," Hardy said. "That being said, those are the types of things that are going to happen in baseball. Errors are going to happen, and I didn't do my job to limit the damage."

More than the runs scored in the game, Hicks' error meant that Hardy, normally a reliever, had to stretch out his arm more than he typically does. He ended up throwing a career-high 95 pitches.

"I think you guys all know where we're at right now with our bullpen," Gardenhire said. "We have to try to do something. We have to try to get some more innings."

The Tigers went into the ninth inning tied, 7-7, but the A's scored two runs off Shane Greene and Warwick Saupold to cap a tough night that initially looked like an easy victory. 

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Considering the fire that started with the match that was Hicks' error, he had a chance to redeem himself at the plate in the eighth inning. Tied at 7-7, Hicks was up with the bases loaded and two outs. He got ahead, 0-2, but fouled off a pair of pitches to even the count at 2-2 before whiffing on a high fastball.

Video: OAK@DET: Buchter whiffs Hicks to leave bases loaded

Hicks said after the game that the error was still on his mind, and that he hadn't been able to shake it off. And he was thinking of his pitcher.

"I haven't said anything to him yet," Hicks said. "I plan to. During the game I'm letting him pitch. I'll say something to him. I cost him three runs right there."

SOUND SMART
With a 2-for-3 performance, including the run-scoring double in the first, Castellanos now has three consecutive multi-hit games. He has gone 6-for-12 with two doubles and four RBIs in that stretch. Castellanos leads the Tigers with 30 multi-hit games this season.

Video: OAK@DET: Castellanos plates a run to open the scoring

HE SAID IT
"The starter is going to go out there and obviously try to get us deep into the second half. Everybody knows what's going on here. I don't want them to put any more pressure on them than they already have when they take the mound. We need a 'pick-us-up' [performance] right now. Hopefully we'll get it." -- Gardenhire, on needing to get more innings out of his starters

UP NEXT
The Tigers continue their series against the A's on Wednesday with a 7:10 p.m. ET first pitch at Comerica Park. Mike Fiers (5-4, 4.29 ERA) will take the mound for the Tigers. Fiers has gone into the sixth inning only once this month, but has given up two runs or less in his past three home starts. Chris Bassitt will start for the A's, filling in for previously scheduled starter Daniel Mengden, who was placed on the DL.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers