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Scherzer, Tigers outlast A's in ALDS opener
Scherzer (1-0) surrendered two runs and three hits while striking out 11 as the Tigers began their defense of the AL pennant.
Drew Smyly got the first two outs of the eighth and Joaquin Benoit retired the final four batters - three via strikeout - to lock up the save.
Bartolo Colon (0-1) endured a rough opening frame and ended up allowing three runs and 10 hits in six innings for Oakland, which lost the ALDS to Detroit last October in five games.
Yoenis Cespedes homered and accounted for two of the Athletics' three hits.
Austin Jackson led off the game with a double and Torii Hunter was hit by a pitch before Miguel Cabrera singled in the opening run for the Tigers. Hunter came home on a double-play groundout before Victor Martinez doubled and scored on Avila's single to complete the three-run rally.
Scherzer allowed one hit over the first six frames - a second-inning triple by Cespedes - but surrendered a leadoff infield single by Brandon Moss in the seventh before Cespedes came up and slammed a 95-mph fastball into the stands in left field to cut the deficit to 3-2.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Cespedes (right shoulder) played left field after serving as the designated hitter during most of the final week of the regular season. ... Cabrera (abdomen/groin) went 1-for-4 with an RBI but was limited in the field and on the basepaths. The reigning MVP limped noticeably and failed to beat out a grounder to third in the eighth that Oakland 3B Josh Donaldson bobbled. Cabrera was replaced defensively in the bottom of the inning. ... The Tigers will send Justin Verlander, who allowed a total of one run in 16 innings against Oakland last October, to the mound in Game 2. The A's will counter with rookie Sonny Gray.