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10/11/06 1:39 AM ET

Tigers Short Hops: Detroit rolls to win

Patience proves key to victory over A's in Game 1

OAKLAND -- Fielding the Tigers' Game 1 win over the A's on a short hop ...

In < 25 words ...
The Tigers prevailed by being patient against Barry Zito. Five runs off Zito and Nate Robertson's strong start equaled a 1-0 series advantage.

Frozen moment
After the Tigers built a commanding 5-0 lead, Robertson looked to be in trouble in the bottom of the fourth. Robertson walked Frank Thomas and then gave up a double to Jay Payton that put runners on second and third with no outs. Instead of folding, Robertson struck out the next three batters to get out of the inning unscathed.

Big number
92. The number of pitches that Zito threw over just 3 2/3 innings. The Tigers knew that they would have to work the starter early before he found his groove and that's exactly what they did. It's the same type of thing the club will need to do against the entire difficult A's pitching staff.

Game ball
Brandon Inge. The Tigers third baseman finished a triple shy of hitting for the first cycle in postseason history and helped get the Tigers offense off to a great start.

Sense of October
The A's crowd certainly had a lot to cheer for early until Inge's solo home run in the third inning. Before that homer, Zito had retired eight consecutive batters. After that home run, Zito faced 12 batters over his next inning before being replaced by Chad Gaudin with one out remaining in the fourth and the crowd had grown decidedly quiet.

Lines of the Game
Brandon Inge

3 AB, 2 R, 3 H, HR, 2B, 2 RBIs
Comment: Inge got the Tigers rolling with his first home run and kept the offense hot all game long.

Nate Robertson

5 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 Ks
Comment: Robertson was solid and able to get out of jams when needed to -- exactly what the Tigers were hoping for from the lefty.

"[Manager Jim Leyland] told him to forget about the runner and just concentrate on the hitters. That's the key. Make a good pitch and have to make one out at a time. He did it. He did a good job tonight. He's been doing a good job lately for us." -- Carlos Guillen, on what Leyland said to Robertson in the fourth inning before the left-hander struck out three straight batters

Next step
The Tigers have a great chance to take away all the A's momentum with a win in Game 2. Rookie phenom Justin Verlander will have to deliver another strong performance on the road if the Tigers are to go home with a 2-0 advantage.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.