Nelson Cruz broke out of a playoff slump with a home run to help Texas shrug off two rain delays to defeat Detroit 3-2 in their Major League Baseball second-round playoff series opener.
The Rangers, trying to book a return trip to the World Series after falling to San Francisco in baseball's title showdown last year, gained a 1-0 edge over the Tigers in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
The winners will take on the National League Champions in the World Series later this month.
The Rangers scored all of their runs off Detroit's ace hurler Justin Verlander before the game was twice interrupted by rain in the top of the fifth inning.
Cruz led off the bottom of the fourth inning with his homer to make it 3-0 -- ending his 0-for-10 playoff slump.
"Definitely important to get it going," Cruz said. "As soon as I hit the homer, I thought it should be good enough, the way C.J. was throwing. And with the bull-pen we have, we were lucky enough for it to be enough."
Rain was already falling in the fourth inning, and in the top of the fifth play was halted twice for a total of one hour, 50 minutes.
After the first delay of 41 minutes, play resumed for 13 minutes before umpires halted the game again.
The Tigers scored twice in the brief spell between the delays to close the gap to 3-2.
When play resumed after the second break, the Tigers had the bases loaded with two outs.
Verlander, a top candidate to win the Cy Young Award as the American League's outstanding pitcher, had his second rain-wrecked start of this post-season.
Verlander threw one inning and 25 pitches in Detroit's first-round opener at Yankee Stadium before that game was suspended because of rain.
Ruled out when the contest resumed the next day, Verlander started and won game three.
On Saturday, Rick Porcello -- Detroit's scheduled game four starter -- replaced Verlander after the rain delays and pitched two scoreless innings.
"I think that this was a little bit of a weird night, obviously, with the rain the way it was," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who acknowledged that even before then Verlander was not at his best.
"I thought tonight that his control was not good. His control was not very good," Leyland said. "He didn't really have his curveball going for strikes. He had a tough time with it. I think probably trying to overthrow it a little bit."
Even so, Leyland said Verlander would have gone back into the game if not for the second delay.
"When the second (delay) came about, that was a no brainer," Leyland said of the decision to take him out.
Source: AFP Global Edition