Pennington nearly came through again for Oakland in the ninth, but his deep drive down the left-field line was just foul.
"It was certainly a good game for the fans," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Both teams played hard. Both teams got big hits and did good things at the right moments, and both teams did some — made some mistakes that got the other team in the game."
Alburquerque missed most of the season after offseason surgery on his throwing elbow. He came on to face Cespedes with the Tigers in a jam, and that one out was enough to earn him the win.
The right-hander said he wasn't trying to show up the A's when he gave the ball a smooch.
"I just did it," he said. "It was the emotion of the game. I wasn't trying to be a hot dog."
Reddick wasn't amused.
"We didn't appreciate that. I thought it was immature and not very professional," Reddick said. "You don't do that on the field. Save it for the dugout. That's all I'm going to say."
The A's have taken the lead four times in this series, but on each occasion they failed to hold it through the bottom half of the inning.
Doug Fister allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings for Detroit, striking out eight. Rookie Tommy Milone was impressive for the A's, allowing a run and five hits in six innings. He struck out six.
Fister gave the A's trouble early with his slow, sweeping breaking ball, but Oakland hit four singles in the third. Crisp's slow roller to third turned into an infield hit when Cabrera threw wide to first. Stephen Drew struck out looking — and had words for plate umpire Mark Wegner — but Cespedes followed with a run-scoring single.
Oakland nearly scored again on a single to right by Brandon Moss, but rookie Avisail Garcia threw Crisp out at home.
Cabrera hit a one-out double in the bottom of the third. He went to third on a single by Fielder and scored on a dribbler by Delmon Young that was too slow to be a double play.
NOTES: Balfour was charged with the loss. ... Oakland has struck out 23 times in the first two games. ... Benoit allowed 14 homers during the regular season, easily his most since 2004, when he spent some time as a starter. ... The A's are hoping LHP Brett Anderson is healthy enough to start Game 3 against Anibal Sanchez. Anderson missed the last couple weeks of the regular season because of a strained right oblique.