With his 6-0 win over the A's on Thursday night, Justin Verlander did something only 10 other pitchers have done in postseason history: throw a complete-game shutout on the road in a winner-take-all game.

But none of those previous 10 pitchers drew their winner-take-all assignment the way Verlander did: by his team blowing a ninth-inning lead in the potential clincher in the previous game.

No defeat deflates a team like blowing a late lead. No win pumps up a home team and a home crowd like a late-inning comeback. Those truisms become multiplied in the playoffs.

Verlander carried all that on his back as he walked to the Coliseum mound for Game 5 on Thursday night about 21 hours after Jose Valverde had let the two-run lead get away in the potential series clincher. Valverde's Game 4 lowered onto Verlander about as much responsibility as a post-season pitcher ever can have to prove that "momentum is tomorrow's starting pitcher."

And few of those previous 10 pitchers to throw a winner-take-all shutout on the road must have faced a crowd as continually loud as the one that rooted against Verlander.

"These fans were unbelievable," Verlander said of the 37,000 or so who packed the Coliseum for three straight games against the Tigers. "They were on their feet from out 1 to out 27. But they made it tough to come here and play."