DETROIT -- The way things had been going for both teams, it didn't seem possible a six-run Yankees lead after five innings would beget an easy victory.
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The Yankees nearly coughed up that lead, but ultimately hung on to beat the Tigers, 12-8, Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 41,879 at Comerica Park.
"However you get it done, 1-0 or whatever," Eric Chavez said. "Right now, this time of year, a win is all that matters."
The Yankees (64-46), who came in having lost 12 of their last 18 games, had 18 hits and remained 4½ games ahead of the Orioles in the AL East. Everyone in the revamped lineup -- featuring Derek Jeter back at leadoff, Nick Swisher in the two-hole and Curtis Granderson batting sixth -- had at least one hit.
Granderson, in a 2-for-20 slump coming in, went 3-for-5, including a three-run homer in the second that made it 5-0, with four RBIs.
"I just didn't miss tonight, that's the only difference," Granderson said in comparing Wednesday night to the night before when he went 0-for-4. "It felt no different by any means."
Girardi said: "Let's just hope this one [lineup] scores a lot of runs for a while."
Swisher, who has been productive in his career in the two-hole, said "it felt like old hat" hitting there again and added he thought moving the lineup could spark the team.
"I thought offensively we did exactly what we're capable of doing," he said. "I felt like today kind of might have been that breakout game a little bit."
It looked that way much of the game until suddenly it didn't as the Yankees led 7-1 after five and 8-3 going into the bottom of the seventh.
One of the strangest half-innings of the season followed as the Tigers (60-51), who saw their 10-game home winning streak end, nearly came all the way back.
CC Sabathia (12-3), pretty good to that point, allowed a leadoff single to Austin Jackson. He struck out Omar Infante, bringing up Miguel Cabrera, 0-for-2 to that point. The AL MVP candidate sent a ground smash to Casey McGehee, who booted it for an error, the Yankees' second miscue. They had a season-best 13-game errorless streak entering the game.
Prince Fielder then sent a dribbler that Mark Teixeira couldn't handle cleanly, forcing the first baseman to tag out Fielder as Jackson scored. Girardi brought in David Robertson to face Delmon Young, and Sabathia's night ended after 94 pitches.
"Yeah," Sabathia said, asked if he was upset at being pulled. "You're always upset when you're not able to finish your inning. I felt pretty good . . . but he's the manager and it worked out for us. We won the game and that's all that matters."
Said Girardi: "I just felt it was time to go to Robby."
Robertson allowed four straight hits -- two of the infield variety -- and suddenly the Tigers were within 8-7.
The Yankees' offense did regain the momentum, scoring twice in the top of the eighth off Phil Coke to make it 10-7.
Robertson allowed Omar Infante's second homer of the season with one out in the eighth to make it 10-8 but the Tigers did no more damage as the righty retired Cabrera and lefthander Boone Logan got Fielder. The Yankees closed out the scoring with two in the top of the ninth.