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ORIOLES HAMMER SCHERZER, TIGERS

Baltimore comes out swinging to win its division series opener.

Times wires

BALTIMORE - The way Nelson Cruz and the Orioles are hitting this season, it may not matter much who pitches for the other team.

Cruz and J.J. Hardy homered, and the Orioles hammered out 12 hits in defeating 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and the Tigers 12-3 Thursday in the opener of their best-of-five American League Division Series.

Jonathan Schoop and Alejandro De Aza each had two hits and two RBIs for the Orioles, who turned a close game into a rout with an eight-run eighth inning against Scherzer and three relievers.

The 12 runs set a postseason record for Baltimore, making its second playoff appearance since 1997.

Game 2 is today at Camden Yards. Justin Verlander, the second of three straight Cy Young winners the Orioles will face, was set to go against Wei-Yin Chen.

Scherzer allowed five runs and seven hits in 71/3 innings. The right-hander was 18-5 during the regular season, but in this one, he was burned by the long ball and outpitched by the Orioles.

"I just left too many pitches up," Scherzer said. "This is a great-hitting ball club. You give them a chance to extend their arms, they can really hit it. I've got to find a way to get the ball down. I wasn't quite able to do that, and I paid for it."

Cruz led the majors with 40 homers during the regular season, a good portion of Baltimore's big-league-best 211. His first-inning drive off Scherzer put the Orioles up 2-0 before Detroit's Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez connected off winner Chris Tillman in the second to tie it.

But Baltimore had too much firepower for the Tigers. Hardy homered leading off the seventh for a 4-2 lead, and Cruz added his third RBI with a single during a wild eighth inning keyed by a Detroit error that kept the boisterous, orange-clad crowd of 47,842 on its feet.

"The one that stings is that J.J. Hardy home run," Scherzer said. "That home run really changed the game, in my eyes, gave them that insurance run. It was too good of a pitch for him, and he's a great hitter, and so he put a great swing on it and hit it out of the ballpark."

Tillman allowed two runs in five innings before Andrew Miller got five outs, three by strikeout. Darren O'Day gave up an eighth-inning homer to Miguel Cabrera, but the drive followed a double play.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter then called upon closer Zach Britton, who had 37 saves during the regular season. Britton got the last out in the eighth, and by the time the ninth inning rolled around, he wasn't needed anymore.

Miller had a 1.35 earned-run average in 23 games with Baltimore. O'Day finished at 1.70, and Britton closed at 1.65. That's one big reason the AL East-champion Orioles were 80-4 when leading after eight innings.

Meanwhile, Detroit's revamped bullpen has looked shaky, though it was shortstop Andrew Romine's error that got the big eighth inning going.

Although Tillman had a 5.56 ERA in the first inning during the regular season, he began his initial foray into the playoffs in impressive fashion by striking out the side on 14 pitches.

Cruz hit an opposite-field drive to right in the bottom half after Nick Markakis hit a leadoff single. It was his 15th career postseason home run, tied with Babe Ruth for 10th on the career list.

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