DETROIT -- Victor Martinez's angry posturing notwithstanding, the A's are one step closer to the American League Championship Series.

And Martinez's Tigers are one step closer to an earlier-than-expected offseason after Oakland rattled Comerica Park for three homers en route to a 6-3 victory Monday. The A's have two of the three wins they need in the American League Division Series to advance.

The benches cleared in the ninth inning when Martinez, the Tigers' designated hitter, took exception to the nonstop talking of A's closer Grant Balfour, and took a step toward the mound. Nothing happened, which might be a metaphor for how the A's have taken the life out of the Tigers after suffering a Game 1 loss.

Oakland pitching has dominated Martinez and the Tigers offense to the point where Detroit has scored in just two innings in three games. With a win Tuesday in Game 4 at Comerica Park, the A's can advance to the A.L. championship series for the first time since 2006.

"The way we've played all year is that what happened yesterday, that's over," Balfour said. "What happened today, that's over, too. But the series isn't over. We've still got one game to win."

The A's, whose transformation from 2013 contender to division winner began six weeks ago at Comerica Park, used the Tigers' home to best advantage. Again. From Aug. 26-29, the A's hit seven homers and scored 34 runs in Motown. Monday, it was six runs and three homers.


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More than that, Monday saw the A's put together one of their best postseason performances, mixing in defense and pitching with the offense while the Tigers struggled with all facets.

Afterward, there was such a sense of normality in the Oakland clubhouse that eighth-inning reliever Sean Doolittle was asked if the clubhouse was subdued because of the Martinez-Balfour two-step.

It wasn't subdued, Doolittle said. And the players didn't seem to put much stock in the benches clearing in the ninth inning.

"It's very businesslike in here," Doolittle said. "That's how it is here. We're enjoying being up 2-1. But tomorrow it'll be like any other game day."

Jarrod Parker, who had the hard luck to start two games in the 2012 ALDS when Justin Verlander was on the other side and dealing, was gifted with a 3-0 lead thanks to Coco Crisp, who scored one run and drove one in, and a Josh Reddick homer. That lead vanished in the space of five hitters in the bottom of the fourth, but Brandon Moss broke the tie in the top of the fifth with a solo homer. Seth Smith added a two-run bomb moments later.

"That was huge," Parker said of the offense regaining the game's momentum. "That's why I wanted to get back out there in the fifth and make it a quick one."

He did that, with the help of a double play started by third baseman Josh Donaldson. Then the bullpen came in, throwing up zeros. Balfour followed Dan Otero and Doolittle, and when Balfour got Omar Infante to fly out to Reddick in right, it was time to turn the page to Tuesday.

"One thing this team is good at," Smith said, "is playing with consistency. We'll go out there tomorrow just like we went out there today. There won't be any more emphasis on that game than on any of the playoff games."

The consistency Monday came in the form of setting up scoring chances. The A's got the leadoff man on base in each of the first four innings.

It came in the form of playing defense. Donaldson and Moss turned two fine double plays, and Jed Lowrie made two nice plays deep in the hole at shortstop.

The pitching had just one inning, the fourth, when more than one runner reached base.

"Getting the three-spot right back like that was huge," Balfour said. "It looked like they had some momentum going, and right there we got it back."

And the A's have the opportunity to carry that momentum forward Tuesday.

  • Otero gets his "biggest outs." PAGE 5

  • Tempers flare
    in ninth. PAGE 6

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