Ian Kinsler fielded Eric Sogard's ground ball and threw home, thinking Lawrie was breaking for home. Instead, Billy Burns' bases-loaded single through the middle chased Simon. Zobrist greeted rookie right-hander Angel Nesbitt with a line drive that barely cleared the wall in right field.
"It's big, because I feel like that's happened to us more than it has us taking advantage of their mistakes this year," said Zobrist. "It had to turn around. It's been turning around gradually, and we're fighting and battling to get back to the kind of team we know we are. Tonight was a step in the right direction."
Coming off a four-game sweep at Angel Stadium, the Tigers' fifth straight loss was their most frustrating of the bunch. "Anaheim was a slap in the face," manager Brad Ausmus said. "This was a punch in the gut."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The force is not with you: Simon nearly got a highlight out from Jose Iglesias deep in the hole, but Nick Castellanos couldn't pull off the field and tag. The crippling play in the A's seventh-inning rally, however, came a few pitches later, when Kinsler inexplicably threw home on an Sogard grounder with runners at the corners. Burns singled in Oakland's first run on the next pitch before Zobrist's grand slam off Nesbitt turned the game.
"That's where the game went south," Ausmus said. More >
A grand inning: Zobrist's agility in the field has noticeably been lacking since his return from left knee surgery last week, but that was of no consequence when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, following a pair of misexecuted plays by the Tigers, and lined an 0-1 pitch from Nesbitt into the right-field seats to put the A's on top with a two-run lead. It was the sixth career grand slam for Zobrist, but first since 2011.
"Huge momentum for us there," said Graveman. "It was one of those games where the pace was slow, and you just felt like something had to go our way. And you get a couple plays there that go our way in that inning that maybe hadn't gone our way all year, that gave us a little confidence, a little boost, and once that went out, that was a really good feeling in the dugout there." More >
Castellanos clears bases, sort of: Castellanos fell into an 0-2 hole with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, giving Kendall Graveman a chance at an escape. However, Graveman buried a 1-2 pitch in the dirt for a wild pitch, then ran the count full before Castellanos hit a two-run single for a 3-0 lead.
"I'm not sitting there clapping my hands, saying we've got this game in the bag, but it's definitely a momentum swing in our favor," Castellanos said, "especially since I did absolutely nothing productive in Anaheim."
Graveman shows grit: Though Graveman was hurt by two-out troubles in the fourth, the youngster managed to put together two scoreless innings thereafter to keep the A's in the game. Several times before in similar circumstances, the A's have watched him let such struggles snowball.
"He could've very easily regressed back to old habits, or old memories, and he didn't," said catcher Stephen Vogt. "He got himself out of that inning and limited the damage from then on out and really settled down and did a nice job getting us to the seventh." More >
"You see it on the field. We try to manufacture things instead of just playing baseball. We try to do too much and you see the mistakes we made." -- Miguel Cabrera, on the Tigers' miscues
WHAT'S NEXT Athletics:Sonny Gray gets the ball for Tuesday's middle matchup against the Tigers at Comerica Park, with first pitch scheduled for 4:08 p.m. PT. Oakland's ace enters the game with a 1.82 ERA, which ranks second in the American League.
Tigers:Anibal Sanchez, who rebounded from his struggles with seven innings of two-run ball in defeat at Anaheim, will try to improve upon a 6.81 home ERA when he takes the mound on Wednesday.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.