DETROIT — The Oakland A’s still believe they have one of the best teams in baseball.
But a tough three-game sweep in Detroit — against the team that eliminated them from each of the last two postseasons — certainly dented the top record in the majors.
Coco Crisp led off the game with a long home run and Brandon Moss hit an ever farther homer later in the first inning off Justin Verlander, but the Athletics didn’t get much more in losing to the Tigers 9-3 Wednesday.
“We won three of four here last year during the regular season, but they turned the tide on us this time,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t a very good series for us — getting swept never feels too good.”
Detroit won this year’s season series 4-2, but with both teams leading their divisions, there’s a chance of a fourth October meeting since 2006.
“We do want to play them again this year,” Melvin said.
Verlander (7-7) won for the first time since May 30. He left after the sixth with a 9-2 lead.
“I didn’t make a big adjustment, I just got more into my rhythm,” he said. “My changeup wasn’t good, but I was able to throw my slider to lefties, where usually that’s just fastball and curve.”
If there is a third Detroit-Oakland matchup in October, the A’s won’t expect this version of Verlander.
“For guys like that, there is a regular-season version and a playoff version,” Moss said. “I guarantee you that when playoff time comes, he’s going to be dominant.”
Jesse Chavez (6-5) struggled for the second straight start, giving up five runs in five-plus innings. Reliever Jim Johnson replaced him and allowed four runs while only getting one out.
“We got the lead in the first, and I gave it back,” Chavez said. “That’s the biggest thing. As a starter, when you get the lead, you want to hang on to it.”
Torii Hunter hit three RBI singles for the Tigers. One of his hits capped a six-run burst in the sixth inning.
The big inning included a two-run single by Rajai Davis through a drawn-in infield. Davis, who played for Oakland from 2008-10, started Oakland’s rough series by hitting a game-ending grand slam to give the Tigers a 5-4 victory on Monday.
Near the end, the only suspense was whether Moss could get his cycle. Needing a triple, he hit an RBI single for his fourth hit of the game in the seventh and never got back to the plate.
NOTES: DH Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) and C Derek Norris (back) both returned to the lineup for Oakland. … The A’s return home for a series with Toronto, with Sonny Gray (7-3) scheduled to face R.A. Dickey (6-7).