Cruz control: Orioles pound Tigers in ALDS opener

Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Nelson Cruz set the tone with a two-run homer in the first inning, and the Baltimore Orioles scored eight times in the eighth to pull away for a 12-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

Cruz, the major league leader with 40 homers during the regular season, added an RBI single to his early blast off Max Scherzer. J.J. Hardy delivered a solo homer later on, while Alejandro De Aza and Jonathan Schoop each finished 2- for-4 with two RBI to help Baltimore grab the upper hand in this best-of-five set.

Nick Markakis also had a pair of hits, including an RBI single, and Chris Tillman outpitched Scherzer in his postseason debut to send the Orioles into Friday's Game 2 owning a 1-0 series lead.

Tillman (1-0) surrendered back-to-back solo homers to Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez in the second inning, but permitted just two other hits while striking out six over five frames.

Miguel Cabrera homered off Darren O'Day in the top of the eighth to bring Detroit within 4-3, before the Orioles sent 12 men to the plate in their half of the inning to turn the contest into a rout.

"Up until that point in the game, it was a pretty good game and it just got away from us," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus remarked. "You've got to credit the Baltimore Oriole hitters as well."

Scherzer (0-1) was charged with five runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings of work.

Game 1 couldn't have began any better for the Orioles, as an amped-up Tillman struck out the side in order in the top of the opening inning and Baltimore's first two hitters reached base on a Markakis single and a Scherzer curveball that hit De Aza in the foot.

Scherzer got Adam Jones to ground into a double play, but Cruz drilled his next pitch four rows deep into the seats in right center to put the Tigers in an early 2-0 hole.

Detroit quickly erased the deficit, though, as Victor Martinez crushed a Tillman fastball over the scoreboard in right to start the second and J.D. Martinez followed suit with an opposite-field shot to tie the score.

The consecutive homers represented the only two Tiger baserunners over the first four innings against Tillman, who set down 11 straight after J.D. Martinez's deep fly.

Baltimore went back in front in its half of the second, with Schoop extending the inning with a two-out single. Markakis' bloop to right center then fell in for a hit that plated Ryan Flaherty, whom Scherzer had walked earlier.

"We got a bunch of two-out hits all game and we thrived on that," Markakis said. "Guys wanted to be in that situation. Hopefully we didn't waste them all tonight."

Scherzer found a groove afterward to keep the Tigers close, retiring 12 Orioles in a row following Markakis' go-ahead single.

The reigning AL Cy Young winner hung a slider to Hardy that was deposited into the Baltimore bullpen in the seventh, however, pushing Baltimore's advantage to 4-2.

Cabrera took O'Day over the wall in the eighth to bring Detroit back within one, but the Orioles responded and then some in the bottom of the inning.

De Aza chased Scherzer with a one-out double and scored from second when Tigers shortstop Andrew Romine misplayed Jones' grounder. After Jones swiped second, Cruz brought him home with a single off Joba Chamberlain to increase the lead to 6-3.

Baltimore then loaded the bases prior to opening the floodgates on Flaherty's RBI single, a run-scoring groundout by Nick Hundley and Schoop's double to right that knocked in two more for a 10-3 margin. De Aza later capped the outburst with a two-run double to center.

"Scherzer is a tough guy to get out the game," said Jones. "We just grinded him out and battled and battled him. Once we got to the pen we just turned it on."

Game Notes

Baltimore reached double digits in runs for the first time in a playoff game since a 10-4 win over Cleveland in the 1996 ALDS ... Cruz now has 15 career postseason homers, which ties Babe Ruth for 10th place on the all-time list. Seven of them have come in seven postseason meetings with Detroit ... Martinez and Martinez became only the second pair of teammates with the same last name to hit back-to-back postseason homers since Frank and Brooks Robinson did so for the Orioles in the 1966 World Series ... Scherzer had been 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA in his three previous ALDS starts ... Justin Verlander will take the mound for Detroit in Friday's Game 2 opposite Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen.