Coco Crisp banished the memories of a costly defensive error with a spectacular catch that sparked Oakland to a 2-0 victory over Detroit on Tuesday as the A's avoided being swept in their American League Division Series.
Crisp, who dropped a catch in center field to gift the Tigers runs in a Game One loss, made a leaping grab at the wall to rob Prince Fielder of a second-inning home run as the Athletics cut the best-of-five series deficit to 2-1.
The momentum-swinging play helped starter Brett Anderson toss six scoreless innings, striking out six batters, on his post-season debut and first outing in three weeks.
"Coco robbing the homer kind of set the tone. I can't say enough about the defense," Anderson told reporters after returning from a stomach injury that had sidelined him since September 19.
Anderson had earlier returned to action from a near 15-month absence in August when he completed his recovery from Tommy John (elbow reconstruction) surgery.
"You couldn't really script this, but it worked out," he added.
Oakland is hosting the final three games of the series and will be hoping for a repeat of the manner in which they ended the regular season with a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers to steal the AL West title on the final day.
Game Four is on Wednesday at The Coliseum, which welcomed playoff baseball for the first time since 2006 with a raucous, yellow towel-waving crowd of more than 37,000.
As Anderson kept Detroit's hitters at bay, Yoenis Cespedes gave the Athletics an early lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning before Seth Smith added a solo home run in the fifth.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez was also solid in allowing just two runs in 6 1/3 innings of work but it was not enough to finish off a resilient Athletics team that has performed brilliantly as a unit since the All-Star break.
The Tigers were held to just four hits to Oakland's five.
Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera recorded a hit in the ninth and is batting .333 for the series, though he has yet to record an RBI in three games.
The unfortunate Fielder grounded into a game-ending double play against Grant Balfour, who got the save, to finish hitless despite belting a deep drive in the second that appeared certain to tie the score.
"Coco gave them a lot of momentum when he took the homer away from Fielder," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "They pitched and played the perfect game, you have to tip your hat to them."
The winner of the series will face either the New York Yankees or the Baltimore Orioles for the American League title
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)