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Alejandro De Aza key as Orioles top Tigers 12-3 in opener

BALTIMORE -- There's something about playing the Detroit Tigers in the postseason that just seems to makes Nelson Cruz lock in at the plate.

Cruz homered six times vs. the Tigers in 2011 while playing with the Texas Rangers. He did some more damage with Baltimore on Thursday night, hitting an early two-run homer while adding an RBI-single during an eight-run eighth inning as the Orioles pulled away for a 12-3 victory over Detroit in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

The 12 runs set an Orioles record for a playoff game.

Game 2 will be played Friday afternoon.

Cruz, the designated hitter, now has seven homers and 16 RBIs vs. the Tigers in seven post-season games. Overall, he posted 15 homers and 30 RBIs in just 35 postseason games during his career.

"It's just I like to enjoy this moment," said Cruz, who finished with three RBIs. "I think, as a player, you want to be in this situation, and I just like to enjoy it. I just try to play like (it's) any other team. I just try to do my job."

The Orioles did the job in the eight-run eighth inning that knocked out Tigers starter Max Scherzer and burned their suspect bullpen. The right-hander pitched strongly through seven innings and entered the eighth down just 4-3, but gave up one run and three Detroit relievers allowed seven in just two-thirds of an inning.

"We strung together a lot of good at-bats and gave us some margin for error," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Obviously they're very potent offensively and every run you can score, you need to make use of that opportunity."

Right-hander Joakim Soria (four runs, three hits), right-hander Joba Chamberlain (two runs, one hit) and left-hander Phil Coke (one run, one hit) all ran into trouble in that big inning as the Orioles turned a one-run game into a nine-run lead.

Detroit was also hurt by shortstop Andrew Romine's error on Adam Jones' grounder in that eighth. It let left fielder Alejandro De Aza score the first run of the inning and seemed to open the floodgates.

"It's a team effort," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "Tonight we just didn't get it done, simple as that. Up until that point in the game, it was a pretty good game. It just got away from us."

De Aza played a big role in that eighth inning. He doubled twice, drove in two runs and scored once. His speed also played a big role as he scored all the way from second on Romine's error even though the ball barely got out of the infield.

"When you have the chance, you get everything you can," De Aza said. "We had the chance today. Tomorrow is another day. We have to go after it tomorrow."

Also in that eighth, third baseman Ryan Flaherty (RBI single), catcher Nick Hundley (RBI groundout) and second baseman Jonathan Schoop (two-run double) pitched in. De Aza capped the inning with a two-run double on his second at-bat of the frame.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy hit a solo homer for the Orioles in the seventh, and right fielder Nick Markakis put Baltimore in front for good with an RBI single in the second.

The Tigers lost despite hitting three solo homers. Designated hitter Victor Martinez and left fielder J.D. Martinez slugged back-to-back solo shots off Orioles starter Chris Tillman in the second. First baseman Miguel Cabrera added a homer in the eighth.

Tillman battled through five innings to earn the win. He gave up two runs on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts.

The Orioles bullpen took care of the final four innings, giving up one run on four hits.

Scherzer, the losing pitcher, was charged with five runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Baltimore took a 3-2 lead in the second on Markakis' RBI hit with two outs. The bloop single scored Flaherty and gave Markakis two hits in his first two career postseason at-bats.

"I was just trying to have a good at-bat and not worry about the outcome," Markakis said. "If you see a lot of pitches and you get out, you still did your part up there."

In the first, Scherzer induced a double-play grounder from Jones after the first two Orioles reached. Cruz then followed with his 15th career postseason homer to put Baltimore up 2-0.

The Tigers quickly answered with back-to-back homers by Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez to tie the score.

Tillman retired 11 consecutive Detroit batters after the two homers before the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. Right fielder Torii Hunter grounded into a force play that ended Tillman's night.

NOTES: Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed that LHP Wei-Yin Chen will start Game 2. ... RHP Ubaldo Jimenez was included on Baltimore's ALDS roster in a mild surprise. LHP T.J. McFarland and LHP Brian Matusz were left off. The Tigers are a predominantly right-handed-hitting lineup, and Jimenez threw seven shutout innings against them in a May start and pitched well in two late-season starts. ... Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said the Tigers will go with RHP Justin Verlander in Game 2, LHP David Price in Game 3 and RHP Rick Porcello in Game 4.

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