A's power way to win; Cust slugs two
Four homers, Tomko's solid start are highlights of rubber game
OAKLAND -- The A's may have taken the term "getaway day" a little too literally Sunday.
With four balls finding their way out of the yard for Oakland, the team essentially turned it into get-out-of-the-park day.
Whatever gets a win, manager Bob Geren always says.
That they got, as the four dingers highlighted a 9-4 victory over the Tigers that gave the A's their second straight win and first series win of the nine-game homestand which concluded Sunday.
"A win's a win," Geren said, "and I'm happy with it."
So was his team -- and rightfully so, considering all but two players in the starting lineup snagged at least one hit in the series finale.
Two of the long balls came from Jack Cust, who enjoyed a 3-for-3 day with a walk. The A's designated hitter, who homered Wednesday against New York to snap a 26-game homerless streak, seems to be reintroducing himself to fans as the power hitter he knows he's always been.
"I'm feeling a little bit better," Cust said. "Well, a lot better. I'm finding a little something in my swing and not thinking too much out there.
"I'm just looking for good pitches and staying away from the bad ones."
Cust had his picking against Detroit starter Rick Porcello, who took the loss after allowing five runs -- including both of Cust's shots -- on eight hits with one strikeout and one walk.
"He couldn't keep the ball in the ballpark," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Other than that, he was pretty good."
Cust, who was promoted to the five-hole in the lineup after spending a week batting seventh, knocked his first homer -- a three-run shot -- out in the third following an RBI single by Rajai Davis and a walk issued to Ryan Sweeney.
"I just fell behind him," Porcello explained of his approach to Cust. "The first one, I got behind with a slider and changeup out of the zone. Then I left a fastball right over the plate, and he jumped on it."
It was deja vu in the sixth when Cust led off the inning with his 19th home run of the season.
"The second one," Porcello said, "down 3-1 [in the count], it was pretty much the same story. He just turned on it."
At that point, the A's offense had jumped out to a 4-1 lead and was already in the process of overshadowing a tremendous effort from the right-handed arm of veteran Brett Tomko, who gave Oakland six strong innings of work.
The 36 year-old journeyman, who was released by the Yankees on July 29 and signed by the A's on Aug. 5, surrendered a leadoff home run to Curtis Granderson in the first but allowed just two hits and two walks thereafter while fanning eight.
"I felt pretty good," said Tomko, who is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Aug. 17. "It's been a long road for me, especially this year. When you get run support like that, it definitely makes it easier to be aggressive with hitters knowing you have some room to make mistakes."
Despite the wiggle room, Tomko didn't make any mistakes after the first-inning homer. He threw 87 pitches -- 55 for strikes -- and appeared right at ease with catcher Landon Powell, whom he had never thrown to before Sunday.
"I've basically gone from zero to 90 pitches in three weeks," Tomko said. "It's been an accelerated Spring Training for me. I don't really feel 36 -- maybe a little younger."
His fellow pitchers, however, couldn't quite solve the Tigers lineup as well. After Brad Ziegler gave up a seventh-inning run, Craig Breslow allowed a hit to the only batter he faced before Michael Wuertz had his scoreless innings streak of 9 1/3 snapped thanks to a two-run homer in the eighth by Miguel Cabrera -- his 200th career dinger -- to make it a 5-4 game.
Luckily for the worn-out bullpen, a couple of fresh-faced youngsters gave the A's back complete control over the game.
Both Powell and Cliff Pennington knocked out homers of their own in the eighth to seal the win. Powell, who had a 2-for-4 day while enjoying a rare start behind the plate, brought home three runs with his shot. Two batters later, Pennington got one out barely over the right-field wall off the Tigers' Ryan Perry.
"I like the idea that late in the game, we're close with a great team," Geren said. "The young guys did great today and I didn't have to use my closer there at the end.
"As a manager, it's a luxury to have two catchers who are good both defensively and offensively. Landon sure had a big hit there."
For Powell, the home run proved to be a bit of a relief.
"I've been feeling fine swinging the bat but haven't gotten the hits," he said. "A home run makes you feel a lot better.
"It's been a big adjustment for me here. As a guy in the Minors who played every day, it's been different. But if I keep playing like this, hopefully I'll be playing more and helping out the team."
The A's, who start a seven-game road trip through Seattle and Los Angeles on Monday, will take all the help they can get while facing the two division foes -- even if it's simply confidence.
"I don't know about momentum," Geren said, "but I do believe more in confidence. Some people see them as the same thing, but I'll take the confidence."
Jane Lee is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.