DETROIT -- Austin Jackson usually doesn't make a lot of mistakes in the field for the Detroit Tigers. He had a key miscue on Thursday against Oakland.
The center fielder, who usually runs down everything that stays in the park, misplayed a line drive into a two-run triple in the pivotal sixth inning of the Tigers' 12-4 loss to the Athletics.
Detroit was going for a three-game sweep as both teams began the day in second place in their divisions. The Tigers fell 2 1/2 games behind the Central-leading Chicago White Sox, who played later at Kansas City. Oakland held an edge in the wild-card race.
The Tigers led 3-2 but the A's went ahead for good in the sixth. Brandon Moss hit a tying double with one out and after Chris Carter struck out and Seth Smith was walked intentionally, Josh Donaldson had a tiebreaking RBI single.
Phil Coke relieved starter Anibal Sanchez (3-6) and George Kottaras hit a liner that it appeared Jackson would catch. But he misjudged it, leaping at the last second in an attempt to catch it. But it went over his glove and rolled to the warning track as Oakland extended the lead to 6-3.
"It kind of knuckled. I was right there. It just took a left turn on me," Jackson said.
Kottaras described his view of the play.
"I knew I hit it good. I saw him coming in, I thought 'Oh no, he's going to catch it,'" Kottaras said. "Then when I saw it go over his glove, I was like 'Great!' But then I thought, 'I've got to keep running.'"
Jackson said that might be the first time he has ever seen a ball do that in a game.
"It kind of started in one spot, and then started drifting back the other way," he said.
Andy Dirks homered for the Tigers and Sanchez allowed six runs -- five earned -- and six hits while walking two and striking out eight in 5 2-3 innings.
Dirks led off the bottom of the sixth with his seventh home run, off Jerry Blevins, but Oakland added six runs in the top of the ninth.
"It is what it is. We won the first two, we didn't win the last one. It looked like we got off to a good start, could possibly get the sweep," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Obviously we didn't get it but that's the way it is. You turn the page and now you kind of scoreboard watch tonight, hoping that the White Sox lose. There's no secret about that."
Smith homered, doubled and drove in four runs for the Athletics and Pat Neshek (2-1) retired the only batter he faced to get the win.
The Tigers loaded the bases against Tommy Milone in the first inning before Delmon Young grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"We missed a couple opportunities," Leyland said. "Delmon hit a ball right on the button in the first inning, double-play ball, he hit it right on the nose. We had a couple other opportunities. We had some chances."
Detroit broke through in the second to take a 2-0 lead on Gerald Laird's RBI single and Jackson's sacrifice fly.
Second baseman Omar Infante's throwing error on an attempted double play gave the A's a run in the third. It was his 10th error in 51 games since being acquired from Miami, along with Sanchez, on July 24.
NOTE: Detroit C Alex Avila is no longer having headaches, according to Leyland. Avila sprained his jaw when he collided with Fielder chasing a foul ball on Sunday. ... The Tigers' Rick Porcello faces Minnesota's Samuel Dedundo on Friday night.