OAKLAND -- There really was no other logical way for things to play out Wednesday night at the Oakland Coliseum.

The A's were down to their last gasp in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers, only to stage a comeback that has typified this joy ride of a season.

Seth Smith delivered a game-tying, two-run double and Coco Crisp singled him home, and the A's pulled out a 4-3 victory in Game 4 of the American League Division Series before a sellout crowd of 36,385.

They were three outs away from their season ending. Instead, the A's forced a deciding Game 5 with Detroit on Thursday, with the winner advancing to the A.L. Championship Series.

"We have to keep everybody on edge to pull off something magical," Crisp explained.

After a regular season that produced 14 walk-off victories, the A's found a way to top themselves. And it was no surprise Crisp was at the center of it.

He was at bat for three of those previous walk-off moments -- one on a base hit and two on sacrifice flies. He knew what he had coming during his postgame interview -- a whipped cream pie in the face from Josh Reddick, followed by a Gatorade shower.

It was the A's first postseason walk-off victory since Ramon Hernandez's bunt in Game 1 of the 2003 ALDS against Boston. It also marked just the second time the A's have erased a two-run, ninth-inning deficit to win a postseason game.

The first time? Game 5 of the 1929 World Series.


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"That's just how we've been playing all year," Josh Donaldson said over blaring music in the clubhouse. "We're not gonna stop until they tell us we have to. I guarantee we could probably go play another nine right now."

The A's had mustered just four hits in the first eight innings and trailed 3-1 entering the ninth.

Reddick led off with a single off Tigers closer Jose Valverde, then Donaldson doubled off the left-field wall. Smith doubled them home with a gapper to right-center off Tigers closer Jose Valverde.

Smith was asked to describe his at-bat.

"It was really loud," he said. "My ears were hurting."

After pinch hitter George Kottaras popped up and Cliff Pennington struck out, Crisp hit the first pitch into right field.

Smith rounded third, and when Avisail Garcia couldn't field the ball cleanly, Smith scored without a throw and a party ensued on the A's infield.

The A's won the A.L. West title on the final day of the regular season, and they've set up another enticing showdown for Game 5. They send rookie Jarrod Parker to the mound to oppose defending A.L. Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who silenced them in Game 1.

The A's have snatched momentum after dropping the first two games of this best-of-five series in Detroit.

"It's baseball," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That's why this is the greatest game of all. It looked like we were going to get it. We didn't do it."

A's players were crediting closer Grant Balfour for lighting a fire in the dugout. In the eighth inning, Balfour was yelling at the top of his lungs that the A's were going to make a comeback. Then pitching coach Curt Young reminded him that he would be entering the game if the A's tied it.

"I said, 'Don't worry about it. I'm gonna be ready, but we're gonna walk it off,' " Balfour said.

A crucial baserunning mistake in the sixth seemed like it might seal the A's fate.

With Oakland trailing 2-0, Stephen Drew delivered an RBI double with nobody out but was thrown out easily at third base to squelch a rally. Replays showed that third base coach Mike Gallego was waving him all along.

But Drew's double managed to chase Tigers starter Max Scherzer, who went 51/3 innings and allowed just one unearned run on three hits. He struck out eight and walked one.

A's rookie A.J. Griffin was pulled after five-plus innings. He gave up a run in the third on Austin Jackson's RBI single, and Prince Fielder's homer in the fourth made it 2-0.

For more on the A's, go to Joe Stiglich's blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics and follow him at twitter.com/joestiglich.