Davis uses legs, smarts to help Tigers nip A’s 6-5

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Pinch-runner Rajai Davis’s decision to steal third base just as Oakland catcher Derek Norris was throwing the ball back to the pitcher caught most everyone by surprise - including several of his Detroit teammates.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus just hopes it’s the spark to pull his slumping team out of its two-week funk.

Davis scored on Austin Jackson’s fielder’s choice groundout in the eighth inning and the Tigers beat the Athletics 6-5 on Tuesday night to end a three-game losing streak.

“Raj was just being Raj,” Ausmus said. “He likes to wreak havoc on the bases, he saw the pitcher’s head drop and he took advantage.”

A day after getting shut out in this ALDS rematch from a year ago, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead, lost it, then rallied to win for just the second time in nine games.

That helped overcome another rough outing by reigning AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings but was long gone by the time Davis scored the game-winning run.

J.D. Martinez drew a one-out walk off Oakland reliever Fernando Abad (0-2). Davis was brought in to run and the speedy outfielder took second on a passed ball. He then stole third when A’s catcher Derek Norris was throwing the ball back to Abad.

After Luke Gregerson replaced Abad, Jackson hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Jed Lowrie, but the A’s were unable to turn the double play and Davis raced home with the go-ahead run.

“I think he caught the whole stadium by surprise,” Nathan said. “I know I missed it.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin credited Davis for his aggressive running.

“That was the difference,” Melvin said. “He timed it perfectly. As soon as (Norris) let go of the ball he took off. I haven’t seen the replay yet if he had a chance to get it and throw him out, but that’s a big chance he took and it paid off.”

Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter homered for the Al Central-leading Tigers. Al Albuquerque (2-1) pitched one inning for the win and Nathan worked the ninth for his 12th save in 15 tries.

John Jaso homered for the A’s.

The game began as a marquee matchup between Scherzer and Sonny Gray, but both starters were gone after the sixth.

Scherzer, who beat the A’s in Game 1 of the ALDS last season, struck out four, walked two and balked home a run.

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