Starting pitcher Justin Verlander continued to be a thorn in the Oakland A's side, delivering another dominant performance to lead the Detroit Tigers back to the American League Championship Series.

Verlander, whose stellar pitching also crushed the A's hopes in last year's playoffs, had a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings Thursday night at the Coliseum in Oakland before Yoenis Cespedes connected on a single.

The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner eventually turned the ball over to closer Joaquin Benoit after striking out 10 and hurling a two-hit shutout over eight innings.

Benoit gave up a double to Jed Lowrie but preserved the shutout for the Tigers, who will now head to the northeast for Saturday's Game 1 of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

A's starter Sonny Gray also pitched well but gave up a two-run home run in the fourth inning to Miguel Cabrera - last year's AL MVP and the favorite to win this year's award - that proved to be all the offensive production Verlander needed.

The Tigers later added an insurance run when Omar Infante drove in Victor Martinez from third base on a groundout.

Verlander got the win and Gray took the loss after working five innings and giving up three runs.

In Game 2, Verlander pitched seven shutout innings and recorded 11 strikeouts, but Gray was equally dominant in a pitchers' duel that ended when Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt drove in Cespedes in the bottom of the ninth.

Last year, Verlander pitched a complete game shut-out in Game 5 to lead the Tigers to a 3-2 American League Division Series victory over the A's, and the Tigers went on to dominate the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

The Tigers, however, were swept in four straight games by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.

On Friday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals will square off at Busch Stadium in Game 1 of the NLCS. EFE