"It's frustrating," Fielder said. "But it's a good team you're playing. They're going to make those plays. That's why they're here."
Trying to avoid a sweep and extend Oakland's season at least one more day, Cespedes hit an RBI single off Sanchez to put the A's ahead in the first and Seth Smith homered in the fifth. Each highlight ignited a gold towel-waving crowd announced at 37,090, only the eighth sellout at the Coliseum all season.
Sanchez, a midseason acquisition from the Miami Marlins who was steady down the stretch, allowed five hits and two walks in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out three.
"We hit it hard," Sanchez said. "But we hit it to their outfielders."
Detroit's recent history of celebration at the Coliseum seemed to be only a matter of time after taking the first two games at home.
The Tigers clinched the AL Central last year in Oakland. They also swept the A's out of their last playoff series — in four games of the 2006 AL championship series.
None of the current A's were on the team then, and only two were even in the organization. The task seemed daunting for Oakland: win three straight at home against Detroit. Then again, this A's team has accomplished some impressive feats all season, including a major league-best 14 walk-off wins — all celebrated with whipped-cream pies — and taking three in a row from the two-time reigning AL champion Texas Rangers to win the AL West crown on the final day of the season.
Now it's Detroit trying to avoid the same fate.
Rookie right-hander A.J. Griffin is scheduled to start for Oakland in Game 4 against Max Scherzer. Game 5 would be in Oakland on Thursday, and Detroit ace Justin Verlander is ready to retake the mound if necessary.
"I don't feel like anybody on our team is pressing, per say," left fielder Andy Dirks said. "He pitched a good game. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat, 'He did a good job tonight. Go get 'em tomorrow.'"
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP