DETROIT -- With the season on the line, the Tigers finally did what they do.
After going three games without a long ball, the Tigers hit two home runs to get back into Game 4 of the American League Division Series. They went on to beat the Athletics, 8-6, on Tuesday night at Comerica Park to force Game 5 in Oakland on Thursday.
The Tigers also used Game 1 starter Max Scherzer for two innings of relief, and he notched his second win of the series.
"We took our best shot, and we had to because we were behind the eight ball a little bit," manager Jim Leyland said. "We took that shot and, hey, both teams are going to have a good pitcher going two days from now."
Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander will start Game 5. A's manager Bob Melvin declined to say who he'll start.
Scherzer escaped a huge jam with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning. The Tigers had just scored twice in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead.
Yoenis Cespedes doubled to right after Brandon Moss led off the eighth with a walk. The Tigers intentionally walked Seth Smith to load the bases.
Scherzer struck out Josh Reddick chasing a change-up out of the strike zone. He then fanned Stephen Vogt out on a 98-m.p.h. fastball. The A's brought in Alberto Callaspo to pinch-hit for Eric Sogard, and he lined to centerfield.
"Max is a strikeout guy, and that's what you're looking for obviously early in the situation," Leyland said. "I thought he had the best chance to get a strikeout. I hated to load him up, but Smith has been so hot and Max is a strikeout guy, so you take your shot."
Scherzer gave up an RBI single to Coco Crisp in the top of the seventh, which gave the A's a 4-3 lead.
Then the Tigers answered with two in the bottom of the inning.
Victor Martinez hit a game-tying solo home run to rightfield to tie it at 4 in the seventh. Two fans reached over the railing and touched the ball as Reddick attempted a leaping catch. The A's argued interference. The umpires left the field to review the play, and the homer stood.
Austin Jackson delivered a two-out, broken bat single to right, giving the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
Jackson had struck out in each of his first three at-bats in the game and was 1-for-14 with 10 strikeouts in the series before putting the Tigers ahead.
The Tigers added three runs in the eighth inning to take an 8-4 lead. Hernan Perez scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded, and Omar Infante hit a two-run double.
The A's scored two in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate. Cespedes singled to right to drive in two off Joaquin Benoit. Smith struck out swinging to end the game.
The Tigers trailed, 1-0, early and were down 3-0 before they had their first hit off rookie right-hander Dan Straily.
Prince Fielder got things started with a bloop single to left in the fifth. Martinez followed with a single, and Jhonny Peralta tied the game with a three-run home run.
"You know, we put that big inning together and Jhonny came up big, and that's been him all season long for us," Martinez said. "He's been great for us, swinging the bat good, and I think he just showed it again tonight."
Tigers starter Doug Fister allowed seven hits, one walk and three earned runs over six innings with one strikeout.
Jed Lowrie powered the A's to a 3-0 lead. He had an RBI single in the first for his first hit of the postseason and added a two-run home run in the fifth.
Now the Tigers must go back to Oakland and win on the road to keep their season alive.
"We all know it's going to be a tough place to play," Martinez said. "We have been doing a great job all season long just turning the page and go to the next day and play a brand-new ballgame and see what happens."
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