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DET@CLE: Anibal flirts with no-no, earns win No. 8

The Tigers already have swept five series at Comerica Park since the start of July. If they can collect No. 6 on Thursday afternoon against the A's, it would be a big one.

Wednesday's 6-2 win drew the Tigers within two games of the White Sox in the American League Central, with 14 contests remaining on Detroit's schedule. The first eight of those come at home, where the Tigers are 28-8 since July 4.

They will have Anibal Sanchez taking Thursday's start against Oakland's Tommy Milone in a battle of pitchers who have been at the top of their games in recent weeks.

Sanchez has a 4.19 mark in nine starts since his trade from Miami, but that number has shrunk to 1.89 over his past five outings. During that stretch, the right-hander has struck out 22 and walked three.

On Saturday against the Indians, Sanchez carried a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings before three straight hits forced his exit.

"From the third inning, I thought I had a chance," said Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter for the Marlins in 2006. "Everything was working good tonight. I'm hitting my spots and my ball was moving well, so I thought I could do it."

The A's started Wednesday in the top AL Wild Card spot, but their loss to the Tigers dropped them into a tie with the Orioles, and Baltimore's win over Seattle later that night set Oakland a half-game back of the top slot.

Milone will try to stop his club's losing streak at three on the heels of setting the Oakland rookie wins record in his last start. The lefty improved his season marks to 13-10 with a 3.81 ERA on Friday against the Orioles, giving up one earned run in 6 1/3 innings.

The victory broke a tie with Chris Codiroli (1983) and Joe Blanton (2005) and gave Milone the most in franchise history since Harry Byrd won 15 for the 1952 Philadelphia A's. It also made him 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA over his past five starts.

A's: Dealing with Miggy a serious problem
• A day after Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera opened the series with two home runs, including a grand slam, Melvin was asked about the best way to approach the slugger.

"Boy, if I had an answer for you," Melvin said before Wednesday's game, when Cabrera went 1-for-3 with another homer and two walks. "I don't have an answer for you right now. I'd like to say down and away, but down and away means a double to right-center field for him a lot of times. When he's going good, it's very difficult to have to deal with him, and with the guy behind him [Prince Fielder], it makes it even more difficult."

• Coco Crisp was held out of the starting lineup Wednesday for the second time in the last three games while recovering from pink eye.

Tigers: Going without Avila, Berry
• Catcher Alex Avila and outfielder Quintin Berry both were held out of the lineup on Wednesday, although Berry said he could play after coming out of Tuesday's game with a right shoulder bruise.

While Berry took batting practice on Wednesday, Avila is further from a return. He still is dealing with mild concussion symptoms following a collision with first baseman Prince Fielder and must be symptom-free before getting back on the field. Manager Jim Leyland said he hopes to have Avila for Friday's series opener against the Twins.

• Right-hander Max Scherzer, who left his last start after two innings with shoulder fatigue is "questionable" for his next scheduled outing, Sunday against Minnesota.

Worth noting
• Milone beat the Tigers on May 11 in Oakland, holding them to two runs, one earned, in seven innings. He struck out six and walked one.

• Sanchez has never pitched against the A's but does have significant experience with two Oakland hitters from their time in the National League. Stephen Drew is 5-for-15 (.333) off Sanchez, while Seth Smith is 5-for-11 (.455) with a home run.

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