OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Kirk Saarloos took a shutout into the ninth inning and Nick Swisher homered to lead the streaking Oakland Athletics to their 11th win in 12 games, 5-2 over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

Jay Payton added his fifth homer since joining the A’s from Boston at the All-Star break as Oakland won for the 31st time in 38 games to enter August leading the wild-card race by 11/2 games over the New York Yankees.

After winning 19 games in June to overcome a slow start to the season, the A’s did one better in July, tying an Oakland record set in 1974 with 20 wins in the month. The A’s have shaved 11 games off the Angels’ lead in the AL West and trail by only 11/2 games – the closest they’ve been since after games of May 1.

Detroit was swept in a series of at least three games in Oakland for the first time since 1994 and finished 1-5 on a West Coast trip, falling four games under .500. With their playoff chances dwindling, the Tigers traded closer Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta just a few minutes before the game when they determined he would test free agency in the offseason instead of signing a three-year contract.

Not even the return of their ace, Jeremy Bonderman, could stop the slide. Bonderman (13-7), coming off a five-game suspension for his role in a brawl July 17 against Kansas City, allowed four runs, eight hits and four walks in six-plus innings.

After A’s starters allowed at least 10 hits in three straight games for the first time since 1982, it was their fifth starter who delivered with the strong start. Saarloos (7-6) was a model of efficiency, coming one out away from the shutout and finishing with his third career complete game.

Magglio Ordonez’s two-run homer with two outs in the ninth was the only blemish of the day for Saarloos, who allowed seven hits and walked one in a 102-pitch outing.

Saarloos was helped out by an unusual 9-6-3 double play when Ivan Rodriguez did not run out a ball. With Dmitri Young on first and no outs in the fifth, Rodriguez hit a sinking liner to right field. Swisher tried to make a sliding catch but the ball popped out and first-base umpire Rick Reed clearly signaled safe.

Young was caught between first and second and Swisher threw to shortstop Bobby Crosby for the force at second. Rodriguez stopped running halfway to first and had his hands on his hips when Crosby threw to Dan Johnson at first to complete the double play.

It was a tough series for Rodriguez, who was ejected in the fourth inning Saturday and could face a suspension after making contact with the umpire and throwing his equipment.

Saarloos got more help with runners on first and third and no outs in the sixth. Carlos Guillen hit a liner right to Johnson, who stepped on first for the double play. Chris Shelton then grounded out to end the threat.

Crosby drew a pair of walks off Bonderman and scored both times for Oakland – on an RBI double by Eric Chavez in the first and a bases-loaded walk in the fourth.

Swisher led off the third with a solo homer, his 15th, and Oakland added a fourth run when Johnson doubled and scored on a groundout by Scott Hatteberg in the sixth.

Notes: Bonderman, a former A’s prospect, fell to 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his career against Oakland. … The only other time Oakland starters have allowed at least 10 hits in three straight games was Aug. 28-30, 1982, when Rick Langford, Mike Norris and Matt Keough did it. … Swisher dropped a foul fly for an error in the eighth, ending Oakland’s season-high seven-game errorless streak.

AP-ES-07-31-05 1818EDT

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