OAKLAND -- This time, Bobby Seay pitched himself back off the brink.

Twice in eight days, Seay was one ball away from walking in a go-ahead run in the late innings. The teams and the innings were different, and fortunately for the Tigers, so were the results. A week after his four-pitch walk to Garret Anderson brought in the only run of a 12-inning loss to the Angels, he was back in a bases-loaded, 3-0 count on Monday. This time, it was against A's rookie Daric Barton, and it was in the eighth inning of a 2-2 game.

Against the Angels, he was upset at home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson for not calling a 1-0 pitch off the corner for a strike. This time, he was upset with himself, because he broke the most important rule for pitching against the A's: throw first-pitch strikes.

"It sets up a lot of the at-bats with this team, because they like to take pitches," Seay said. "They like to work the count. It just works for them. You have to make them hit the ball, because you're playing into their game if you start walking people.

"They play the percentages very well."

In first-pitch strikes, he was 0-for-3 against the three batters he faced. When he needed a strike to preserve a tie game after a 3-0 count, however, he was 3-for-3. Barton took the first two, as Seay expected, then flied out to center on the full-count pitch.

It was a big out, as Seay admitted, but he was more disappointed to get into that situation. It was his four-pitch walk to Travis Buck that loaded the bases for Barton.

"I think last night I got lucky," Seay said Tuesday. "I made the pitches when I needed to, but I got myself into a count that I didn't want to be in."

Whether it's a momentum builder for him will be seen. After walking just three batters in 14 1/3 innings over his first 17 outings, he entered Tuesday having walked four batters in three games. He took the loss Tuesday after allowing one hit over 1 1/3 innings.

With Seay as Detroit's only real left-handed specialist for now with Clay Rapada on the disabled list, manager Jim Leyland has to use Seay with care to save him for the right situation. When he's on, he's a big piece of the Tigers' late-inning arsenal.