Jim Leyland's Tigers absorbed the original meaning of a "walk-off" Wednesday night.

That is, they had to walk off the field dejectedly as the A's exulted over their three-run, ninth-inning rally that gave Oakland a 4-3 win and extended the ALDS to a deciding game.

"Well, it's baseball," Leyland said in his postgame news conference. "I mean, that's why this is the greatest game of all. It looked like we were going to get it. We didn't do it. ...

"I thought we played our hearts out. Tonight, we just didn't close it out."

If a team has to absorb a loss the way the Tigers did Wednesday, one solid way to rebound from it is to have a Cy Young Award winner take the mound Thursday. The Tigers have that in Justin Verlander.

"The benefit of having a true No. 1, an elite pitcher in the game," catcher Gerald Laird said, "is you've got to beat him twice. We've got our ace going, which is a good sign for us."

Verlander, who also won the MVP award last year while taking the Cy, led the American League in strikeouts this season with 239. He has led the AL in strikeouts in three of the past four seasons.

He went seven innings as the Tigers won Game 1 of this series 3-1. He allowed three hits and struck out 11. Verlander said he'll take a similar mind-set into Game 5.

"Obviously, it's win or go home," Verlander said, "but it's the same feeling for Game 1. So obviously, I'm not going to change my mentality.

"I'm not going to do anything more than what I've done all year."