Oakland, Calif. — When his team is scoring one run in 18 innings, a pitcher with an eye on winning had better pitch shutout baseball.
David Price did.
And, so too, did his mop-up help, as the Tigers got the most from the least Tuesday night in winning, 1-0, over the Oakland A's at O.co Coliseum, and putting a stop to their three-game losing streak.
"It's why he's one of the better pitchers in the game," said Brad Ausmus, whose team gained a game on the Royals with Tuesday's triumph.
Price got an improbable victory, and not only because the Tigers — who conspired in a 4-0 dud of a defeat Monday against the A's — got a lone first-inning run that held up.
Price, in fact, was not the streamlined machine he often is in putting down an enemy team minus a run.
He never had a 1-2-3 inning against the A's until the sixth. And not until he vanquished the A's with a six-up, six-out stretch over the sixth and seventh did it look as if his early and rising pitch-count would allow him to hang around deep into the game.
"Some things that went on kept tacking on pitches and made it seem as if he wasn't throwing great," Ausmus said. "But he was actually throwing the ball pretty well."
The Tigers left-hander, whose ERA is 2.97 and whose record is now 4-1, allowed the A's a five-hit ration and continually closed out what could have been damaging innings by the A's.
"I felt good — I felt good all night," Price said as he fought to talk against some booming Latino music in the Tigers clubhouse. "I was kind of fighting myself in a couple of situations, but that's part of it."
The Tigers, of course, were matching Oakland's puny offense with more of their own feeble firepower. They got only six hits, all singles, and if it weren't for one of those messy errors Oakland so often donates, the Tigers and A's might still be playing.
So intent was manager Ausmus on shaking at least another run from his scoring-starved gang — and avoiding their constant double plays — he had the Tigers running for much of the night, generally into a tag by the A's infielders.
Three times during the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings the Tigers tried to swipe a base. Three times Phegley's throws sniped them.
It was a Phegley throw that didn't behave that factored in the run.
Anthony Gose slapped a leadoff single to left and quickly made a bid to steal second as No. 2 hitter Rajai Davis settled in. Phegley fired a misguided missile of a throw that sailed past second baseman Ben Zobrist and into center field. Gose rose and barreled into third on the error.
Davis hoisted a sacrifice fly to center field that sent Gose sprinting home with the only run Price and the Tigers needed.
The A's might have cracked Price's cool any number of times, with their best shots coming in the third, fourth, and fifth.
But each time, Price got a strikeout, a short fly ball, or a ground ball that kept Oakland blanked.
He also got help from his allies in the field. Gose was the blue-ribbon winner there when he turned and rambled all the way to the center-field fence to grab Marcus Semien's fifth-inning drive.
That put-out came one batter before Zobrist drove a ground-rule double over the same center-field wall.
Price was excused after the seventh, having thrown 109 pitches.
"I was going to bring him out for the eighth," Ausmus said.
But that changed when he reflected on Joba Chamberlain's handsome career numbers against the first two A's hitters, Zobrist and Billy Butler.
Chamberlain dusted off each on ground balls, at which point Ausmus brought in Tom Gorzelanny to duel with left-handed hitting Steven Vogt.
Vogt laced a liner that caromed off Hernan Perez's glove and bounced into right field, where shift-patrolling third baseman Andrew Romine grabbed it and nearly tossed out Vogt.
Ausmus decided his faithful fireman, Joakim Soria, needed to shoot for a rare four-out save. He was called in to liquidate Mark Canha, and did on a hard grounder that Soria gloved and finished with a throw to Cabrera at first.
"I know he'd probably prefer not to do it," said Ausmus, speaking of Soria's double-inning duty, "but I feel a bit more confident because he doesn't get high pitch-counts."
In the ninth, Soria was all but immaculate: grounder to third and pop fly to second ahead of a double to the left-center gap by fleet Sam Fuld.
That left Soria to finish off leadoff batter, Billy Burns, which he did neatly, getting Burns on a soft fly to left that ended the Tigers' losing skid and bought a stressed team at least one night of peace.