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Tigers 3, Athletics 1

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DETROIT (AP) - Jarrod Parker charged to his left, planning to field a dribbler to make an unassisted out.

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No such luck.

Parker's error allowed the Detroit Tigers to score a go-ahead run in the third inning of a 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night in Game 1 of their AL division series.

The rookie pitched well enough to keep Oakland in the game.

Trying to field his position, though, proved costly.

``If he fields it cleanly, he gets the out,'' Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

The right-hander attempted to scoop Quintin Berry's slow grounder down the first base line with his glove. It looked as if he then tried to flip it to first baseman Brandon Moss - a converted outfielder - and found out too late his teammate wasn't on the bag.

Berry was safe at first and Omar Infante scored to give Detroit a 2-1 lead in the closely contested opener of the five-game series.

Parker appeared dumbfounded that Moss didn't aggressively charge the grounder or cover first to await a throw. But Parker insisted he was trying to pick up the ball with his glove and to step on the bag for the second out of the pivotal inning.

``I guess the momentum just flipped it out of my glove,'' Parker said.

Game 2 is Sunday 12:07 p.m. EDT, about 15 hours after the final out of Game 1, at Comerica Park before the series shifts to Oakland.

Parker gave up three runs - two earned - and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings. He walked only one, struck out five and gave up a solo homer to Alex Avila that gave the Tigers a two-run lead in the fifth inning.

``I made a couple mistakes, and when you are facing Verlander that gets you beat,'' Parker said. ``Just a few bad pitches and one bad fielding play, and you are in big trouble against him.''

The Tigers chased Parker with two singles in the seventh.

``It wasn't like we blistered the ball around. Parker was pretty good,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

Oakland relief pitcher Pat Neshek entered the game, getting the final two outs of the inning and stranding two runners in a remarkable performance soon after the death of his newborn son.

``Not only was it good for us, it's really good for him to get in the game and contribute right away.'' Melvin said.

Neshek's son, Gehrig John, died 23 hours after his birth. He posted the tragic news on his Twitter account late Wednesday night.

``It was really tough warming up, and I thought about him the entire time,'' he said, holding back tears. ``I said that baseball would be a way to clear my mind, but that didn't happen. He was always there.''

``I know it is a cliche,'' he added, ``but I really felt like I had someone watching me and helping with that last pitch. That was my best slider of the year.''

The A's wore a black patch on their right sleeves that bore the initials ``GJN'' in honor of Neshek's late son.

``I can't believe the support I've gotten from the team and my teammates,'' he said. ``I couldn't be doing this without that.''

Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick said it is ``unbelievable'' Neshek can still pitch.

``I don't know if I could have even slept if that happened to me,'' Reddick said.

The A's got off to a fantastic start offensively with Coco Crisp hitting a leadoff homer off Justin Verlander before fizzling at the plate against the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young award winner.

Verlander matched a career playoff-high with 11 strikeouts in 121 pitches against the AL West-championship team that led baseball with 1,387 strikeouts during the regular season.

``It doesn't even seem to matter how many pitches that guy throws,'' Reddick said. ``He just keeps coming after you with all of those pitches.''

The upstart A's struck out 14 times overall - striking out three times against relievers Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde - and finished with just four hits.

``I think we were a little frustrated, yeah,'' Melvin said.

AP NEWS
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