Alexis Gomez hit a go-ahead, two-run single and later added a two-run homer on Wednesday to lead the Detroit Tigers to an 8-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the American League championship series.
The ALCS now returns to Detroit with the Tigers holding a 2-0 lead.
A moment of silence was held before the national anthem for former A's pitcher Cory Lidle, who died in a plane crash earlier in the day. Lidle most recently pitched for the Yankees on Saturday in Detroit and spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons in Oakland.
A career minor leaguer, Gomez had just one home run in the majors and contributed only six RBIs in 103 at-bats this season.
"He does have big-time power," Tigers coach Leyland said. "Unfortunately, he showed most of it in batting practice."
Milton Bradley homered twice for the A's, and beat out an infield hit with two outs in the ninth inning that loaded the bases. But closer Todd Jones retired Frank Thomas on a harmless fly for his second save in these playoffs.
"What a challenge," Jones said. "It was a lot of fun. We're up 2-0 and we're going back to Detroit."
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is today at Detroit's Comerica Park, featuring Rich Harden for Oakland against former A's pitcher Kenny Rogers.
Harden, who returned to make three late-season starts after missing more than three months with an elbow injury, did not pitch during the division series sweep of the Minnesota Twins. Rogers pitched shutout ball against the New York Yankees in Game 3.
Leyland, who turned around the Tigers in his first season as their manager, benched righty Marcus Thames and his 26 regular-season home runs in favor of Gomez, who hadn't been on the field in nearly two weeks and spent much of the year at Triple-A Toledo.
"We just took a shot that maybe, by chance, a lefty may have a shot," Leyland said beforehand.
Leyland already had to reshuffle his lineup to replace Sean Casey after the first baseman injured his calf in Tuesday's opener. The moves paid off and the Tigers won their fifth straight postseason game.
Leyland gave Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski a courtesy heads-up about the switch at DH.
"I won't question who he plays," Dombrowski said. "I never have. That's his responsibility. He does it well."