Yanks beat Tigers on passed ball in ninth

Derek Jeter #2 and Alex Rodriguez #13 of Derek Jeter #2 and Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates after Jeter scored the game winning run in the ninth inning on a passed ball against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. (April 27, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Late Wednesday night, Russell Martin was asked about the task awaiting the Yankees Friday night at the Stadium: Beating Justin Verlander, the defending American League Cy Young Award winner and MVP.

After giving appropriate respect to the Detroit righthander, the competitor in Martin took over. "We'll be ready for him," he said.

For the most part, the Yankees indeed were ready for Verlander and the Tigers' bullpen, hitting two home runs and rallying late for a 7-6 win in front of 41,200 chilled fans at the Stadium.

After the Yankees tied it at 6-6 in the eighth, Derek Jeter scored on a passed ball with one out in the ninth to win it. Jeter, whose hitting streak ended at 15 games, walked with one out and went all the way to third when Brayan Villarreal threw a wild pitch on ball four to Curtis Granderson. Villarreal's 2-and-0 pitch to Alex Rodriguez also got away from catcher Alex Avila, and Jeter slid across the plate just ahead of a return throw that couldn't be handled by Villarreal.

"I never saw it,'' Jeter said. "I saw Alex wave me in."

"I was doing my best impression of Rob Thomson,'' A-Rod said of the Yankees' third-base coach. "I'm glad he got in there."

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Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Jeter's advance to third on the wild pitch, "Just really heads-up baserunning, and that's because he peeked when he went. You don't peek when you're stealing; you slide, and if you don't pick up the baseball, you may not get to third base. So it was good baserunning."

Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth to earn the victory.

The Yankees picked up five runs (four earned) and seven hits in Verlander's six innings, including a solo homer by A-Rod and a two-run shot by Martin.

"You still have to throw the ball over the plate," Jeter said before the game of facing Verlander. "You have to enjoy competing against guys . . . He's probably going to get me out more than I get hits. But you're going to get some hits at some point."

Ivan Nova, the most consistent of the Yankees' struggling starters this season, wasn't good, allowing a season-worst six runs, 11 hits and three walks in 51/3 innings. But thanks to his teammates' late rally, Nova still has won 15 straight regular-season decisions dating to June 3.

"Today I made a lot of mistakes,'' Nova said. "I left it up and I got hurt . . . It's not about you, it's about the team. We won today, so I feel good."

Nova wasn't helped by some shoddy defense.

Leftfielder Raul IbaƱez misplayed Brad Eldred's drive to left in the second inning, turning it into an RBI triple with none out that tied the score at 1. But Nova got out of the inning without any further damage.

Robinson Cano dropped a throw to second that appeared destined to nail Jhonny Peralta, who instead was safe with a double to ignite a three-run sixth that gave the Tigers a 6-4 lead. But none-out singles by Rodriguez and Cano and Mark Teixeira's long sacrifice fly tied the score at 6 in the eighth.

The Yankees scored in the first as Granderson doubled and scored on A-Rod's single to right. Detroit made it 3-1 in the third on singles by Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

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The Yankees cut it to 3-2 in the fourth as Rodriguez hit his 633rd career homer and 288th as a Yankee, giving him sole possession of sixth on the club's career list, passing Bernie Williams.

Martin's two-run homer in the fifth gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Jackson's two-run double and Fielder's RBI single put the Tigers ahead 6-4 in the sixth.

Girardi was ejected by plate umpire Joe West in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes. "I wasn't real pleased with the zone," Girardi said.

Girardi didn't deny that West appeared to set him off by laughing or smiling at him. "I just didn't care for the way it went,'' he said. "You know, these games are very serious to us. Every game is very serious to us. You've seen too many times where one game has cost a team a playoff spot. You can never take anything for granted."

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