SAN FRANCISCO -- The Babe. Mr. October. El Hombre. And now Kung Fu Panda.

Pablo Sandoval joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only sluggers to hit three home runs in a World Series game, and the San Francisco Giants rolled over Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers 8-3 in Wednesday night's opener.

"I want to know what he ate for breakfast, so maybe we can get it for the rest of our team," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said.

Barry Zito - remember him? - won in his World Series debut, two years after poor performances caused the Giants to drop him from their postseason roster.

Coming off a Game 7 win over St. Louis on Monday night, the Giants looked fresh. Following a sweep of the Yankees and a five-day layoff, Detroit had a Rust Belt relapse reminiscent of its 7-2 loss to St. Louis in the 2006 opener.

"Man, I still can't believe it," Sandoval said. "When you're a little kid, you dream of being in the World Series."

Detroit tries to even the Series on Thursday night, sending Doug Fister to the mound against Madison Bumgarner. The winner of the opener has claimed the title 66 of 107 times, including eight of last nine. The NL is seeking to win three straight Series for first time since 1979-82.

"I think momentum is your next day's pitcher," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

A crowd of 42,855 in orange and black made the AT&T Park stands look like a large bowl of Halloween candy.

Sandoval hit a solo home run to right-center on a 95 mph 0-2 fastball at the letters in the first. He reached outside and hit a two-run, opposite-field drive to left in the third on another 95 mph pitch from Verlander, the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner. Then added another bases-empty shot into the center-field batter's eye in the fifth, this time on an 84 mph offspeed offering from Al Alburquerque.

Verlander was chased after allowing five runs and six hits in four innings, his shortest start this year, and he dropped to 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA in World Series play.

"I just didn't execute tonight," Verlander said.

Left off the 2010 postseason roster by the champion Giants, Zito shut out the Tigers until Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera's RBI single in the sixth. San Francisco won for the 14th straight time with Zito starting - quite a turnaround from his image as a $126 million bust.

When Giants manager Bruce Bochy tried to call Zito on Tuesday to let him know he was getting the ball, Bochy couldn't get through. Turns out Zito had left his phone at the ballpark.

"Just the opportunity alone was mind-blowing. Me and my wife were dancing around when I heard," Zito said.

Sandoval, given his nickname for his roly-poly physique, was benched in four of five games during the 2010 World Series, his production and confidence down, his weight up. In the stands on this night, fans wearing furry panda hats celebrated with him.

"It's just a pleasure to be a part of it all," he said.

There had been only one previous three-homer game at the ballpark - by the Dodgers' Kevin Elster in the very first game in 2000. No Giant had hit three at home since Barry Bonds back in 1994 at Candlestick Park.

Perhaps because AT&T has become a premier pitcher's park - there were just 84 homers there this year, 25 fewer than any other big league stadium.

"I'll never forget it," Bochy said. "Three home runs on a stage like this, that's pretty impressive."

Ruth did it in 1926 and again in 1928, Jackson in 1977 and Pujols last year.

Sandoval also had success against Verlander in July, hitting the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star game history during a five-run first. The NL's 8-0 win wound up giving the Giants homefield advantage for the Series.

Marco Scutaro, the NL championship series MVP, twice hit RBI singles after doubles by Angel Pagan. NL batting champion Buster Posey contributed two hits, left fielder Gregor Blanco made diving catches to rob Cabrera and Prince Fielder, and Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen to retire seven straight batters - striking out five.

San Francisco kept getting good bounces, with Pagan hitting a double that hopped off the third-base bag at almost a right angle and into left field. ALCS MVP Delmon Young, meanwhile, failed to run after a tapper in front of the plate that the Giants turned into a double play.

When Sandoval faced struggling Tigers reliever Jose Valverde in the seventh, he became the first player to bat with a chance for a four-homer Series game since Ruth came up against the St. Louis Cardinals' Bill Hallahan in 1926. Ruth walked, and Cabrera stroked a single to left-center.

"We were hoping for a water shot," Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt said, "but he got a lousy single. Kind of killed the whole deal for us."

NOTES: Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the ninth off reliever George Kontos. ... This was the Giants' 50th World Series win. ... The team hosting the first two games has won 21 of the last 26 World Series: the exceptions were Toronto (1992), the Yankees (1999), Florida (2003), St. Louis (2006) and Philadelphia (2008).

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  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval hits a home run during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Barry Zito

    San Francisco Giants' Barry Zito tips is hat to the crowd after being removed from the game during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Marco Scutaro

    San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro can't get a single hit by Detroit Tigers' Delmon Young during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • San Francisco Giants

    San Francisco Giants players hold up some Stand Up For Cancer cards during a break in Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Tim Lincecum

    San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum throws during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Gregor Blanco

    San Francisco Giants' Gregor Blanco makes a diving catch on a ball hit by Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Miguel Cabrera

    Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (24) and Jhonny Peralta (27) wait for teammates to bring them their gloves after the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Tim Lincecum

    San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum throws during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval reacts to the crowd after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Barry Zito

    San Francisco Giants' Barry Zito walks to the dugout after the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Prince Fielder

    Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder reacts after San Francisco Giants' Gregor Blanco made a diving catch on a ball he hit during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Detroit Tigers

    Detroit Tigers players players hold up some Stand Up For Cancer cards during a break in Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Detroit Tigers

    Detroit Tigers players players hold up some Stand Up For Cancer cards during a break in Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval, left, gets a high-five from teammate Buster Posey after he hit a solo home run during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval reacts at home after hitting his third home run of the game during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval hits a solo home run in the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series, against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval reacts after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • San Francisco Giants

    San Francisco Giants players hold up some Stand Up For Cancer cards during a break in Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Justin Verlander

    Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander delivers a pitch during the fourth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval (48) is mobbed by teammates after hitting his third home run of the game during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Prince Fielder

    Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder it tagged out at second by San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro during the fourth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Brandon Belt

    San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt rounds third and heads for home on an RBI single hit by Barry Zito in the fourth inning, as Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera falls to the dirt, left, during Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval reacts after hitting his third home run of the game during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Miguel Cabrera

    Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera reacts on the bench during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Justin Verlander

    Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is seen in the dugout during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Prince Fielder

    Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder it tagged out at second by San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro during the fourth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • San Francisco Giants

    A fan watches from the mast of a boat during the fourth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

  • Angel Pagan

    San Francisco Giants' Angel Pagan, right, scores as Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila watches during the third inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval (48) watches his solo home run against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning during Game 1 of baseball's World Series on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco.

  • Marco Scutaro

    San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro hits an RBI single off of Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander during the third inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Angel Pagan

    San Francisco Giants third base coach Gene Lamont gives Angel Pagan the signal to go for home after Marco Scutaro hit an RBI single in the third inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Justin Verlander

    Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander reacts after giving up an RBI single to San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro in the third inning, of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Angel Pagan

    San Francisco Giants' Angel Pagan, right, reacts to the dugout in front of Detroit Tigers' Omar Infante after hitting a double during the third inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Angel Pagan

    San Francisco Giants' Angel Pagan is congratulated in the dugout after scoring during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Barry Zito

    San Francisco Giants' Barry Zito, left, talks to catcher Buster Posey during the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Jose Valverde

    Detroit Tigers' Jose Valverde throws during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Barry Zito

    San Francisco Giants' Barry Zito leaves the game after pitching into the sixth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • San Francisco Giants

    Umpires hold up some Stand Up For Cancer cards during a break in Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval hits a single during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. Alex Avila is catching for the Tigers.

  • Joaquin Benoit

    Detroit Tigers' Joaquin Benoit throws during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Pablo Sandoval

    San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval talks to Detroit Tigers' Jhonny Peralta (27) and Omar Infante (4) during a pitching change in the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)