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OAKLAND -- I wasn't there at the time but I imagine this was how people reacted when they saw Lazarus walking around.

Wow. The dude's alive. But I thought he was dead.

Wow. The A's are alive. But I thought the dudes were dead.

Dead, the A's were Wednesday night. Dead, like no breath, no hope, no threat. I didn't see any life. Who did? They were dead, season over. Nice run, guys. Thanks for showing up and being young and all. They had four wimpy hits in the first eight innings. The only run the A's scored was set up by a two-base error. They struck out 11 times. Stick 'em with a needle and they don't move.

Did I say dead? I meant D-E-A-D. After eight innings the only signs of life were the fans in the stands. As much inspiration and impact one can have on the field of play by waving yellow towels in the stands.

It's the bottom of the ninth, Tigers leading, 3-1, and in the press elevator afterward, I overhead a couple Detroit officials saying they were in the middle of making plane reservations.

When it started.

"I knew I needed to put the bat on the ball and get on base," said Josh Reddick. "A home run wasn't going to help."

That's Reddick's usual method of hitting, swing like you're trying to bring rain. Not this time. Reddick, he of 1-for-13 at the plate in the ALDS with nine strikeouts, opened the bottom of the ninth with a single off Tigers' reliever Jose Valverde. A nice single. Hardly scary. A mild murmur. Cool. At least the A's get five hits in the game that eliminates them. The Tigers are leading, 3-1, and frankly, the way the A's were hitting, it felt like 13-1.

In this game they hadn't had two hits in any inning.

Josh Donaldson was up.

"Valverde had struck me out earlier in the series on three straight fastballs," Donaldson said. "I wasn't going to let him do it to me again. I was looking fastball all the way."

Valverde threw the fastball and Donaldson almost hit it over the left field fence. It was a double. A hard shot off the left field wall. Looked like a homer when it left the bat. Reddick on third. Donaldson on second. Standing on second, Donaldson was a churning mass inside.

"My emotions were uncontainable," Donaldson said. The man knew what the A's had done during the season.

See, the A's already had 14 walk-offs in 2012, most of any team in baseball. But this was different. Unless the A's didn't snap out of it, their season is over. This is the last inning. This is the last gasp. And it looked more like a groan when the inning began. Like I said, some of the Tigers' poobahs were busy making plane flights home.

Seth Smith is up. Seth is 1-for-9 during the series. A nice man, Seth. Eli Manning's backup quarterback at Mississippi. Biggest claim to fame.

Until now.

Smith stroked a shot into deep right center. Reddick and Donaldson score. Game tied. Shoot, THE GAME IS TIED.

Ridiculous. Absurd. I mean, the A's were hitting .184 as a team in this series going into this ninth inning. And now they rap out three hits in a row. What? For a team hitting .184 count your blessings. No matter what happens next, you didn't go quietly.

The next hitter, Derek Norris, pops out. Cliff Pennington did what the A's do so well in this ALDS. He strikes out. Oakland's 12th strikeout of the game and 39th of the ALDS. Two out. Smith still on second.

Coco Crisp up. Coco is the dude who dropped the fly in the center in Game Two and it looked like he turned the series and the momentum over to Detroit.

Crisp walks up to the plate and he's a churning mass of steam junk inside.

"I was over-the-top emotionally," Crisp said. "I was surprised at myself. I gave myself chills."

So what happens?

Coco strikes a seeing-eye groundball into right field. Smith scored easily after right fielder Avisail Garcia misplayed the ball while trying to rush to throw home. A's win. It was their 15th walk-off victory of the year. The most in baseball.

"I know this is unexplainable, what we have done," Donaldson said. "And unless you're in this locker-room, you don't believe what we believe. I know it's a cliche but we never give up."

Yes, one man's cliche is the same man's confidence. "We like to keep everybody on edge," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin.

Imagine how the Tigers felt. "If they look dazed, like how did that happen," Reddick said, "that's to our advantage."

And that may be the A's right now. Because looking into that Detroit dugout, the players stared straight ahead like they just saw a ghost. A ghost laughing at them. Or it could have been Lazarus.

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You can reach Staff Columnist Bob Padecky at 521-5223 or bob.padecky@pressdemocrat.com.