Tigers roar past Athletics 10 to 1

DETROIT - A few more wins like this and the Detroit Tigers just might put themselves into playoff contention.

Hideo Nomo returned from the disabled list to allow two hits in seven innings, and Rich Becker hit a three-run homer as the Tigers won their fifth straight, 10-1 over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

Bobby Higginson homered and Damion Easley added two RBI doubles for the Tigers (59-61), who have won eight of their last 10 to move within six games of Oakland in the AL wild-card chase.

''We've got to get to .500 first,'' said Becker, who was 3-for-4 and scored three times. ''That's a goal and then you have another goal. We're in the realm of thinking about it.''

That would've seemed impossible when the Tigers started out 5-17.

Ben Grieve homered for the Athletics, whose lead in the wild-card race was cut to one game over Boston. Oakland had only three hits and committed five errors.

''As well as we played against Cleveland (in a three-game sweep), we were that bad tonight,'' A's manager Art Howe said. ''Any time you have more errors than hits... .''

Nomo (5-10), activated before the game after going on the DL on July 30 because of inflammation in his right hand, struck out eight and walked one.

''During the DL I couldn't contribute to the team, but during that span the team kept winning, which made me feel good, too,'' Nomo said. ''The only thing I can imagine and hope is that the team keeps winning and I can feel better and I can pitch the same way.''

Nomo retired 21 of the 24 batters he faced and didn't allow a hit until Grieve's leadoff double in the fifth. He also gave up Grieve's two-out homer in the seventh.

''It didn't surprise me he pitched well. I've seen him pitch well,'' Tigers manager Phil Garner said. ''He only missed two starts. He's been throwing in between. The hand hasn't bothered his breaking ball, so that's probably the reason he pitched so well.''

Nomo was supported by a 17-hit attack, including three hits each from Easley, Becker, Juan Gonzalez and Brad Ausmus. The Tigers have scored 81 runs in their last eight games.

''They're swinging well,'' Howe said, ''but our defense helped their offense.''

Tim Hudson (13-5) yielded six runs - five earned - and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings.

''He didn't have it,'' Howe said. ''He was behind in the count from the very beginning.''

Hudson was 4-0 with a 1.86 ERA in four previous career starts against Detroit, including two this year. But the Tigers were on him from the first inning, when Higginson hit his 23rd homer for a 1-0 lead.

''His ball was just running a lot out of the zone and he couldn't throw for strikes,'' A's catcher Ramon Hernandez said.

Becker made it 4-0 with an opposite-field homer on a 3-0 pitch in the second after Ausmus' two-out infield single and a walk to Jose Macias.

Easley hit an RBI double in the third, and Juan Encarnacion's sacrifice fly finished Hudson in the fourth.

Gonzalez doubled off Omar Olivares in the fifth and scored on Easley's double-play grounder.

Gonzalez added an RBI groundout and Easley a run-scoring double to make it 9-0 in the sixth. Becker scored on Billy McMillon's single in the seventh.

Notes:

Hudson has a 10.80 ERA (16 earned runs in 13 1-3 innings) in three August starts. ... The Tigers placed RHP Doug Brocail on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday. Brocail, Detroit's eighth-inning setup man for closer Todd Jones, has been bothered by a bone spur in his right elbow. ... Nomo won consecutive starts for the first time since July 1999 with Milwaukee. ... Oakland has a season-high, six-game road losing streak. .... The A's have committed 109 errors.

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