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A’s begin trip with loss to Tigers

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POSTED September 18, 2012 9:30 p.m.

DETROIT (AP) — The Oakland Athletics may have only one more big hurdle to clear before securing a surprising playoff berth.

Their final trip of the regular season — 10 games against Detroit, the New York Yankees and Texas — began Tuesday night in ugly fashion.

Miguel Cabrera homered twice, including an eighth-inning grand slam, and the Tigers had no trouble overcoming an early injury to right-hander Max Scherzer in a 12-2 rout of the Athletics. Oakland came in three games behind first-place Texas in the AL West, but leading the wild-card race.

"Just got out of hand," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've just got to move on. Just one game."

Cabrera matched a career high with six RBIs and now has 40 homers this season — also a career best. Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta added home runs for the Tigers, who remained three games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

Scherzer left after two innings because of a fatigued throwing shoulder. An MRI showed no structural damage.

"I didn't have any pain in my shoulder — it was just like my arm was dead," Scherzer said. "MRI came back negative. All the structural — it's all good."

Darin Downs (2-1) pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings for the win.

Oakland rookie A.J. Griffin (6-1) lost for the first time in his career.

"Just wasn't executing pitches the way I usually do," Griffin said. "Wasn't pounding down in the zone, leaving pitches up and they capitalized on it."

Scherzer entered the game with a major league-leading 220 strikeouts and added four more before being relieved by Downs after only two innings. He's expected to go a couple days without throwing, then be evaluated again.

After a gut-wrenching 5-4 loss to the White Sox in Chicago on Monday, the Tigers were home, where they have now won 27 of 35. They'll play their next nine games at home before going on the road for the final six.

Griffin was the only pitcher since at least 1918 to allow three runs or fewer and walk two batters or fewer in each of his first 11 career starts. That streak came to an end Tuesday. He allowed five runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings, walking one and striking out three.

Oakland took the lead in the first on an RBI single by Brandon Moss, but Detroit answered immediately with Cabrera's sacrifice fly.

Peralta gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the second with his 12th homer of the year, and Cabrera hit a solo shot of his own the following inning.

"He hits the ball the other way, he pulls the ball," Melvin said. "When he's got Fielder behind him, he's even more difficult to deal with."

Fielder's 27th homer — a two-run shot in the fifth — made it 5-1, and the A's never made much progress against the Detroit relievers.

Austin Jackson hit an RBI double in the sixth for Detroit, and Quintin Berry added a two-run double to make it 8-1. Berry left in the top of the seventh with a right shoulder contusion after a diving attempt to catch Josh Reddick's double. X-rays were negative.

Reddick scored on a single by Yoenis Cespedes.

Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp started after having been out since Saturday. He had missed time because of an allergic reaction in his left eye, and he left this game in the fourth because of complications to an existing eye infection.

Detroit added four runs in the eighth on Cabrera's grand slam. Oakland reliever Jesse Chavez was then ejected for hitting Fielder with a pitch.

NOTES: Detroit C Alex Avila did not play and is day-to-day. He's still recovering after colliding with Fielder on Sunday chasing a pop in Cleveland. He's been bothered by headaches. His replacement, Gerald Laird, had three hits. .. Moss had three hits for the A's. ... Detroit RHP Justin Verlander (14-8) takes the mound Wednesday night against Oakland LHP Brett Anderson (4-1).

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