The Oakland Athletics open the best-of-seven series Saturday at Cincinnati against the National League champion Cincinnati Reds.
Oakland won yesterday's decisive fifth game, 2-1, on the strong arms of pitchers John "Blue Moon" Odom and Vida Blue and the flying feet of Reggie Jackson and George Hendrick.
Odom, whose three-hit shut-out had given Oakland its second victory in the playoffs last Sunday, worked five innings in frigid Tiger Stadium, permitting just one run and two hits.
Then Blue, who was only 6-10 this season after a lengthy spring holdout, came out of the bullpen to work the final four innings and wrap up the victory.
Blue surrendered Detroit's other three hits but seemed to have the Tigers overpowered with his blistering fast ball. When Tony Taylor lined to Hendrick in center field for the final out, the A's dugout emptied and mobbed Blue.
Jackson and Hendrick scored the A's runs on a pair of extremely close plays at home plate.
Oakland tied the score in the second against Woodie Fryman without a base hit and thanks mainly to Jackson. The hearded Oakland outfielder walked on four pitches leading off the inning and then stole second.
When Sal Bando flied to Al Kaline, Jackson took third after the catch on a head-first slide. Mike Epstein was hit on the hand by a pitch but Gene Tenace look a third strike for the second out. It was on this pitch that Epstein and Jackson worked a delayed double steal.
Epstein broke for second, Taylor grabbed Bill Freehan's throw in front of the base and fired back to the Tiger catcher.
Jackson slid under the tag and lay writhing on the ground as umpire Chylak signalled him safe. He was helped off the field and was forced to leave the game with a pulled hamstring muscle. Hendrick replaced him in center field and two innings later, he scored the deciding run from second on a single by catcher Gene Tenace.