ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Detroit Tigers sent themselves into the offseason with the kind of inning they'll be thinking about all the way until spring training.
They needed four pitchers to get three outs. They allowed nine straight batters to reach base. They gave up a pair of two-run doubles to the same guy.
And all that came after blowing a chance to break the game open at the plate.
The Tigers set a miserable franchise record by allowing nine runs in the third inning and wound up allowing their most runs in any postseason game, too, in a 15-5 loss to the Texas Rangers that ended the AL championship series in six games on Saturday night.
"We just couldn't stop the bleeding," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm sure some people are going to make fun of us now because of the way this game ended, so that hurts a little bit. I hope that doesn't happen. But I can understand it if it does, because it was a great series, and this was just not a great game."
For a franchise with a postseason history dating to 1907, those worst-evers really say something.
To have it come with the Tigers two wins from the World Series, and on the brink of elimination, makes it even more painful — especially as the final memory of an otherwise great season. Detroit won 95 games and the Central Division, and got to this round by beating New York in Yankee Stadium in a decisive fifth game. The Tigers were seeking their first AL pennant since 2006 and their first World Series title since 1984.
"I'm not going to go into the offseason disappointed at all," Leyland said. "This team gave every single thing they had, every ounce of energy. I just couldn't be prouder of them, and we got beat by the team that was the defending champion. They defended their championship."
The Tigers were coming off a potentially momentum-swinging victory in Game 5 at home and were actually ahead 2-0 when everything came to a crashing halt.
The problems began in the top of the third, when Detroit had a man on first base and one out. With Miguel Cabrera on deck, all Ryan Raburn had to do was avoid a double play and the Tigers would still have a chance to break things open. Instead, he hit a one-hopper to shortstop for an inning-ending double play.
Max Scherzer still took the mound in the bottom of the inning with a two-run lead. He retired the first batter, Ian Kinsler, when third baseman Brandon Inge made a nice diving stop, and Cabrera made a scoop of a low throw.
By the time something else went Detroit's way, the game and the series were essentially over.
Elvis Andrus walked on four pitches and Josh Hamilton hit a flare that fell in front of a hard-charging Delmon Young in left field. Andrus and Hamilton scored when Michael Young ripped a double into the left-field corner, then Adrian Beltre drove in Young with the go-ahead run on a hard grounder up the middle.
Scherzer walked Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz to load the bases. Leyland thought Cruz should've been rung up when he checked his swing on a 2-2 pitch.
"I thought that was definitely a strike," Leyland said. "I thought he definitely swung."
When Scherzer lost Cruz, Leyland gave up on his starter. Scherzer ended up tagged for six runs on five hits in 2 1-3 innings. He walked four and struck out one.
"One thing I've done this year is minimize the damage. I didn't today," Scherzer said. "To pitch like that in this moment, on this stage, it's very frustrating. ... There were two really good teams going at it. But I didn't step up for the team or have my best stuff. That's what got the game out of hand. It's tough to swallow."
Leyland turned to Daniel Schlereth for a lefty-lefty matchup with David Murphy. It didn't work. Murphy nailed a line drive to center field to make it 5-2.
Rick Porcello took the mound next and got pinch-hitter Craig Gentry to hit a grounder that second baseman Ramon Santiago fielded going to his right. With the speedy Gentry headed to first before Porcello could get there, Santiago threw to shortstop Jhonny Peralta covering second to try getting Murphy. The ball and runner arrived at the same time; Murphy was called safe and Leyland came out to argue.
"I looked at it a couple of times, I really can't tell to this point," Leyland said. "It was so close."
With the bases loaded again, Kinsler singled to left, driving in two more. That also made it nine straight Rangers who got on base.
The Tigers finally got the second out of the inning when Andrus hit a grounder to Peralta, and he threw home to nip Gentry — albeit after a rundown that allowed the Rangers to still have guys on second and third. Hamilton was intentionally walked to load the bases and Young doubled again, down the right-field line this time, driving in two more runs.
Young became the fourth player ever to have a pair of extra-base hits in the same inning of a postseason game, the first to do so in an LCS game.
Ryan Perry replaced Porcello and got Beltre to fly out to left field to finally end the rally.
The Rangers became only the fifth team to score at least nine runs in a postseason inning, the first since 2002. Detroit hadn't given up that many runs in any inning — regular season or postseason — since Aug. 19, 2010.
"They were better than us," Santiago said. "They took advantage of their opportunities."
There were some highlights for Detroit, such as Miguel Cabrera hitting a pair of home runs. He's hit safely in his first 13 career LCS games, matching Greg Luzinski's record. Austin Jackson homered, too. The Tigers even became the first team to hit four homers in consecutive postseason games.
However, there were more lowlights, such as Raburn going 0 for 4; he hit into a pair of double plays and had an error in right field. Jackson also struck out for the 19th time this postseason, the most ever by a Detroit player in a single postseason.
"We were trying to the last inning," Cabrera said. "But it was tough."
"The good news," Scherzer said, "is that we have a pretty darned good team. We like where we're going for 2012."
NOTES: This was the first time the Tigers lost a postseason game when hitting at least three home runs. They had been 5-0. ... The most runs the Rangers had ever scored in a postseason inning was six in Game 3 of last year's ALCS. ... Inge, the 34-year-old Tigers third baseman who was designated for assignment and accepted an outright assignment to the minor leagues in July, played in his 23rd career postseason game to match the franchise record held by Hank Greenberg.