OAKLAND — Rich Hill put a little fear into the Athletics bullpen when they saw the left-hander walk off the field in the middle of the seventh. Hill says there’s nothing wrong.
Billy Butler delivered a pinch hit, two-run single in the sixth and Oakland rallied for a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Hill, who left the game with a slight groin strain, went 6.1 innings to win his fifth straight start. Hill gave up two runs on five hits, walking three and striking out nine.
“When Rich walked off we were very nervous to say the least,” A’s reliever Sean Doolittle said. “No one saw him grab anything or do anything. Hopefully he’s right.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said Hill didn’t want to leave the game, so he made the decision to replace him out of caution.
“He was still pitching effectively,” Melvin said. “I didn’t want to take a chance it would get worse.”
Hill said he started feeling it in the fourth and never went away. He expressed confidence he would make his next start.
“I don’t think it’s anything significant,” he said.
Victor Martinez, who had three hits, and James McCann drove in runs for the Tigers, who lost for the second straight day, their first losing streak in two weeks.
Mike Pelfrey remained winless despite not allowing an earned run. An Ian Kinsler fielding error produced a run and prolonged the inning for Butler.
“The one thing that bothers me more than anything is the sixth inning,” Pelfrey said. “For some reason I’m having trouble getting through the sixth inning. That bugs me.”
Pelfrey was charged with the three unearned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out three.
Danny Valencia, who three hits for the second time in as many days, and Khris Davis each singled with two outs in the sixth, and Kinsler misplayed Yonder Alfonso’s grounder, allowing Valencia to score.
Pelfrey was replaced after walking Marcus Semien to load the bases.
Butler’s single, against Alex Wilson, just evaded the outreached hands ofCameron Maybin. Wilson went on to retire four straight, three on strikeouts. Butler has driven in five over his past two games.
Hill walked Maybin and struck out McCann before feeling some discomfort. Ryan Dull came on to finish the seventh, stranding his 20th runner, without letting one score. First batters are 0-for-20 against him.
“He’s definitely figured something out with his curveball,” Kinsler said. “He’s commanding it really well this year and he’s throwing the ball well.”