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Rangers shrug off rain, tame Tigers, 3-2

October 9, 2011

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— After the rain, the Texas Rangers opened the AL championship series by beating Justin Verlander for the second time this year.

Nelson Cruz broke a postseason slump with a home run that helped boost the Rangers over the Tigers, 3-2, Saturday night as rain followed the Detroit ace and caused nearly two hours of delays.

The defending AL champion Rangers scored all their runs off Verlander before the game was interrupted twice for a total of 1 hour, 50 minutes in the top of the fifth. The final out wasn’t until 12:03 a.m. CDT.

David Murphy hit an RBI single in the second and scored on Ian Kinsler’s single, and Cruz’s leadoff homer in the fourth made it 3-0.

In between the delays, Austin Jackson doubled in a run and scored on a wild pitch by Rangers starter C.J. Wilson. Alexi Ogando, who got all three of the Rangers’ regular-season wins over Detroit this year, pitched two scoreless innings for the victory. Neftali Feliz, clocked at up to 101 mph, worked the ninth for his fourth save this postseason.

Game 2 is tonight. Derek Holland starts for Texas against Max Scherzer, who pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief for the Tigers in their AL division series clincher Thursday night against the New York Yankees.

Texas faced Verlander only once during the regular season, a 2-0 Rangers’ win on April 11 when Verlander lost despite pitching a six-hitter.

The likely AL Cy Young Award winner was 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his three previous career starts at hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark, allowing three runs in 21 innings. Texas matched that run total in four innings when it counted most.

Verlander threw one inning and 25 pitches in the division series opener at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 30 when that game was suspended by rain. Under a rules change adopted two years ago, postseason games are suspended when called instead of being cut short or wiped out.

Verlander came back and started Game 3, winning as he threw 120 pitches over eight innings, and he threw 82 pitches in four innings against the Rangers before the first delay.

The Rangers, in their second consecutive ALCS after never winning a postseason series before last year, left two runners on base in the first.

Play was stopped for 41 minutes but the teams got only 13 minutes in before the tarp came out again. In between the delays, the Tigers scored twice and loaded the bases with two outs.

The rain delays were the first at Rangers Ballpark since May 24. This season was played during one of the hottest and driest summers ever in North Texas, including 27 games when the temperature was 100 degrees or more at first pitch.

Wilson, who had thrown 72 pitches before the first delay, threw 24 more during the short resumption.

Rick Porcello, Detroit’s scheduled Game 4 starter, had two scoreless innings after replacing Verlander.

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