DETROIT — Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking homer in seventh inning off another former Ray, Rafael Soriano, and Justin Verlander struck out 11 in eight gritty innings to lead the Tigers to a 5-4 victory over the Yankees on Monday.
Jose Valverde stopped a New York rally for the second straight night, whiffing Derek Jeter with two on to close it out, and Detroit took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series, pushing the Yankees to the brink of elimination.
Verlander and New York ace CC Sabathia were back on the mound after their series-opening matchup at Yankee Stadium was halted after only 11/2 innings.
While Sabathia didn't make it through the sixth Monday, Verlander was still hitting 100 mph on the stadium radar gun in the eighth.
Valverde took over in the ninth, and another dramatic ending followed. The All-Star closer, who was perfect in 49 save chances this season, walked two and got a warning-track flyout before striking out Jeter to end it.
Trailing by four in the ninth on Sunday, the Yankees scored twice against Valverde before he got Robinson Cano to ground out with two on to close out a 5-3 victory in Game 2.
After two games in New York that took three rainy days to finish, Comerica Park was dry Monday. The Yankees managed two quick runs off Verlander in the first, but the 24-game winner settled down. He appeared to be laboring at times, allowing four runs, six hits and three walks, but he stayed in for 120 pitches and Detroit produced just enough offense.
Brett Gardner tied it for the Yankees with a two-run double in the seventh, but Young answered with a line drive that barely cleared the wall in rightfield to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
It was reminiscent of Young's homer in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, which came before a downpour Friday night that forced that game to be suspended and knocked both Verlander and Sabathia out for a couple of days.
Valverde, who threw 34 pitches in a non-save situation Sunday, was back for the ninth a day later. He had playfully declared the series was "over" after Game 2, and the Yankees nearly made him eat his words, but Jeter struck out swinging with runners at first and second.
Tigers 2, Yankees 1
Game 1: Yankees 9, Tigers 3
Game 2: Tigers 5, Yankees 3
Monday: Tigers 5, Yankees 4
Tonight, 8:37: Yankees (Burnett, 11-11, 5.15) at Tigers (Porcello, 14-9, 4.75)
Thursday, 8:37: Tigers (Fister, 11-13, 2.83) at Yankees (TBA) *
All games on TBS. * If necessary