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Castellanos' HR unrewarded as 'pen struggles

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- A week and a half ago, Shane Greene finished off four saves in four days. On Monday, he took the mound for the first time in nine days and gave up a go-ahead home run.

"That's what the life of a closer is, the life of a setup guy," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Monday's 5-4 loss to the A's. "When you go through games and you're behind all the time, you don't get to use them."

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DETROIT -- A week and a half ago, Shane Greene finished off four saves in four days. On Monday, he took the mound for the first time in nine days and gave up a go-ahead home run.

"That's what the life of a closer is, the life of a setup guy," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Monday's 5-4 loss to the A's. "When you go through games and you're behind all the time, you don't get to use them."

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Welcome, too, to the struggles of a young team like the Tigers.

Iglesias, Martin sworn in as US citizens

"This is when everybody kind of needs to know that, 'Hey, this doesn't last forever,'" said Nicholas Castellanos, whose three-run homer in the seventh inning built a 4-1 lead for the Tigers. "I was telling that to JaCoby Jones. He was upset because he left a guy on third base, and I'm like, 'Dude, I've left five times as many guys on third as you.' It's all part of it.

"It's cliche to say, but keep smiling and keep rolling. Tomorrow, they're not going to feel sorry for us."

Video: OAK@DET: Lowrie gives A's lead with homer in 9th

Detroit has lost six in a row for the first time this season. After beginning last week within a game of .500 and 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Indians, the Tigers are seven games under .500 for the first time since May 22. With three more games against an upstart Oakland team, it doesn't get easier.

Part of that is what Castellanos is taking on. He consoled Jones after his first-pitch popout in the sixth inning. When James McCann slammed the dugout bench in Cleveland after an out Sunday, Castellanos spoke with him.

"There's no really easy around it," Castellanos said of slumps. "You have to go through it. But it's my job to try to shorten that as much as possible, for them to take the emotions out of the process."

Castellanos has endured his own struggles. He homered three times in two days before going 3-for-17 with a double and no RBIs through Cincinnati and Cleveland. His fourth-inning double on Monday set up Detroit's lone run off former Tiger Edwin Jackson. That represented Detroit's only run production until Castellanos stepped to the plate against A's rookie righty Lou Trivino, Oakland's third reliever of the seventh inning.

Video: OAK@DET: Hicks lines an RBI single in the 4th

Castellanos fouled off a 99-mph heater at the knees, then took a 98-mph pitch high and inside. He was ready when Trivino went back to the heat.

"He throws hard, so just keep your swing short and get the fat part of the bat to it," Castellanos said. "That's about it, man. I don't really know how to say how I did that."

That put the back end of the Tigers' bullpen to work with a lead to protect for the first time in more than a week. Setup man Joe Jimenez stranded the bases loaded upon replacing Louis Coleman in the seventh, but gave up three runs in the eighth.

"That was a long inning for Jimenez, sitting in there," Gardenhire said. "He's the right guy in that situation. He got the big out. He's the right guy. It just didn't work out."

Video: OAK@DET: Gardenhire on bullpen's poor performance

Greene, too, was the right guy, but he hadn't pitched since June 16. His strikeout of Dustin Fowler ended the eighth, and he began the ninth by fanning Matt Joyce. Lowrie worked the count full on Greene (2-4) before turning on a cutter and sending it into the seats in the right-field corner, the seventh homer off Greene this season.

Greene has been around long enough to know his routine. He throws to some extent every day. He did not need consoling.

"It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback anytime you give up a homer," he said. "Anytime you give up the game, you're sitting at your locker, trying to figure out what you could've done differently to get a different outcome. But at the end of the day, the way the game of baseball works, you could throw the same guy the same pitch 10 times, and more than likely get 10 different results.

"Today wasn't my day. Be back here tomorrow."

Video: OAK@DET: Greiner catches Fowler stealing at second

SOUND SMART
Castellanos' home run off Trivino's 98.8-mph fastball was the hardest pitch hit out by a Tiger in the 10-year tenure of pitch tracking, topping the 98.6-mph heaters that Ian Kinsler and Yoenis Cespedes sent out in 2015.

HE SAID IT
"I felt strong. I felt like I could keep going. They just said, 'We're going to go to the bullpen.' Nothing I can really say after that point."
-- Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann , who threw five scoreless innings before leaving with 79 pitches

Video: OAK@DET: Zimmermann retires Joyce to end the frame

UP NEXT
Blaine Hardy (3-1, 3.30 ERA) will head back to the rotation for a turn to take the ball Tuesday night in the second game of the series. Hardy threw 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in his last start on June 17 at Chicago. Frankie Montas will get the start for Oakland, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Nicholas Castellanos