(Reuters) - The Detroit Tigers flirted with elimination all night but battled back to beat the Oakland Athletics 8-6 and force a deciding Game Five in their American League Division Series on Tuesday.
The victory over the visiting A’s tied the best-of-five series at 2-2 and set up a do-or-die showdown in Oakland on Thursday with the winner advancing to the AL Championship Series.
Detroit overcame a 3-0 deficit with a three-run home run in the fifth inning by Jhonny Peralta, and then came back from 4-3 down in the seventh on a home run by Victor Martinez and a broken bat RBI single by Austin Jackson that put them ahead 5-4.
But the Tigers looked set to fall behind once again in the eighth as Game One starter Max Scherzer, pitching in relief, found himself mired in a bases-loaded, no-out jam.
Scherzer, who would be credited with the win, struck out Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt, then retired pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo on a line out to center to protect the one-run lead and send the nervous Comerica Park fans into delirium.
The Tigers added three runs in the bottom of the eighth for some much-needed breathing room but Oakland still had some fight left and scored a pair of runs in the ninth on a single by Yoenis Cespedes.
Detroit’s Joaquin Benoit then struck out potential tying run Seth Smith for the final out to seal the win.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Peter Rutherford