- Associated Press - Sunday, October 9, 2011

ARLINGTON, Texas — After the rain, the Texas Rangers opened the AL championship series by beating Justin Verlander once again.

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.

“I think that this was a little bit of a weird night, obviously, with the rain the way it was,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

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

“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 bullpen we have, we were lucky enough for it to be enough.”

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 Sunday night. 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 24-5 during the regular and had been 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.

“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.”

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 with 11 strikeouts over eight innings, and he threw 82 pitches in four innings against the Rangers before the first delay. He struck out five, including Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre in the first without allowing a run after his only two walks.

Leyland said the plan was for Verlander to go back in after the first delay. That all changed when the game resumed for good about two hours after his last pitch.

“When the second (delay) came about, that was a no brainer,” Leyland said. ‘I think that this was a little bit of a weird night, obviously.”

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