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Oakland's Anderson returning to start Game 3

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
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Oakland manager Bob Melvin said pitcher Brett Anderson won't have too many limitations in his first start since Sept. 19. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Brett Anderson endured grueling workouts, lost 20 pounds and pushed through the challenging rehab for elbow-ligament replacement surgery with one thing in mind: getting back on the Oakland mound for a meaningful game.

He's got it, all right. The Athletics left-hander will start Game 3 of the AL division series at home Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers with his team down 2-0 and trying to stave off elimination.

At 24 years, 251 days, Anderson will become the fifth-youngest pitcher in Oakland history to make his first career postseason start.

Just when he got on a roll in six starts after returning from a 14-month absence in August, he strained his right oblique muscle after landing awkwardly at Detroit on Sept. 19.

“It wasn't ideal getting hurt again,” Anderson said. “But I feel good, and the postseason, who knows when we're going to get back here. You'd like to say you're going to get back here again.”

Manager Bob Melvin said the game and Anderson would dictate how long he pitches, though pitching coach Curt Young said it likely would be around an 80-pitch count.

“Not too many limitations,” Melvin said. “Adrenalin kicks in and sometimes you have more in the tank than you normally would after a little bit of time off.”

The A's had gotten by with an all-rookie rotation minus Anderson, opening day starter Brandon McCarthy — who needed brain surgery after taking a line drive to the head Sept. 5 — and lefty Dallas Braden as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

“It really ruins our rookie starting pitching streak,” teammate Jonny Gomes joked. “One less historic thing we can do this year.”

Anderson lost more than 20 pounds from his previous playing weight of 248 — and noticed he felt stronger late in games during his minor league rehab appearances.

Anderson, a second-round draft pick by Arizona in 2006, went 7-6 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts during 2010, then 3-6 with a 4.00 ERA in 13 starts last year.

He is eager to put the injuries behind him for good and regain his top form — again.

“If he feels good and he comes back and throws the way he's capable of, then he's the guy to have out there,” closer Grant Balfour said. “He has great stuff.”

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