OAKLAND -- It was difficult to tell which of the A's three late-game relievers was happiest after they combined to preserve Tuesday night's 2-0 Game 3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Balfour all gave up runs in Oakland's 5-4 Game 2 loss to Detroit, but they were back on their high-velocity lockdown game in protecting Brett Anderson's scoreless six-inning start.
Cook, Doolittle and Balfour each pitched a scoreless inning. As a group, they surrendered just two singles, didn't allow a runner to get in scoring position, walked nobody, struck out five and capped the night with a game-ending double play.
"It doesn't take much to fire us up," said Cook. "But when Brett goes out there and pitches like that, we've got to have his back."
Manager Bob Melvin shuffled the order a bit, going with Cook first in the seventh inning and then Doolittle in the eighth before turning things over to closer Balfour.
Cook was the beneficiary of a diving Yoenis Cespedes catch on a sinking liner by Prince Fielder to start his inning. He then struck out Delmon Young, and after a two-out single by Jhonny Peralta, retired Andy Dirks on a lazy fly to left.
"I tipped my hat to him," said Cook of the Cespedes catch. "It saved me, it saved us."
Doolittle, meanwhile, was on the mound Sunday when Crisp's drop allowed two base runners to score. He left nothing to chance this time, striking out the side in the eighth.
"To walk off the mound with three strikeouts was huge," said Doolittle. "I wasn't really trying to get strikeouts. What you're just looking to do is get the first guy out, put a goose-egg up for the inning and keep the momentum in our dugout."
Balfour, who finished the regular season closing out 18 consecutive save chances, made it 19 straight by striking out Omar Infante to start to the ninth, surrendering a Miguel Cabrera opposite-field single but then getting Fielder to hit into a double play.
"We didn't get the job done the other day," said Balfour. "But we're back home, we feel comfortable here, and it's great pitching in front of these fans."
Smith maintained he had no explanation why he hits Sanchez so well.
"He got it to 2-2 and tried to throw a sinking fastball and left it over the plate," Smith said. "I got good wood on it, and fortunately it went out."
Now the A's rookie right-hander is trying to shrug off his past four starts as he prepares to pitch Game 4 on Wednesday night.
Griffin holds a 7.27 ERA over his past four starts, allowing 26 hits in just 171/3 inning over that span. That slide began Sept. 18 against the Tigers at Comerica Park, when he allowed three homers and five runs total over 42/3 innings.
Griffin, 24, said there's something to learn from that outing.
"I threw a lot of strikes and they were ready to swing, and sometimes I'm not careful enough," he said. "I'm just like, 'They're gonna put the ball in play and hit it at someone,' but they were hitting it over the fence.
"I gotta do a better job of throwing quality strikes. Like when I had (Miguel) Cabrera 1-2, and he hit a curve ball for a homer. It wasn't the wrong pitch to throw, it just caught too much of the plate."
"It's a pretty impressive arm," Melvin said. "I think the only question in Arizona was whether he was gonna be a closer-type or a starter. He probably could have been either."
Staff writer Joe Stiglich contributed to this report.