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Hughes goes all the way, stumps Tigers

Yankees starter Phil Hughes pitches against the Detroit

Yankees starter Phil Hughes pitches against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning in Detroit on Sunday. (June 3, 2012) Credit: AP

DETROIT -- For one afternoon, the Yankees treated Justin Verlander like a run-of-the-mill pitcher.

But -- and the hitters were the first to say it -- the afternoon was all about Phil Hughes.

Putting an impressive finish on their three-city, nine-game trip, the Yankees, behind a complete-game performance by Hughes and home runs by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, beat the Tigers, 5-1, Sunday in front of 42,419 at Comerica Park.

"Phil deserves all the credit," said Jeter, who put the Yankees ahead for good by homering on the afternoon's first pitch. "He was pretty impressive today."

Rodriguez, who also homered off defending American League MVP and Cy Young winner Verlander, used another superlative for Hughes' effort: "Awesome."

Hughes, coming off his worst start of the season -- seven runs and 11 hits allowed in 51/3 innings Monday in Anaheim -- had his best 2012 start Sunday, giving up one run in a four-hitter.

"A tremendous bounce-back start," Joe Girardi said.

It was his first nine-inning complete game. He had a rain-shortened six-inning complete game last Aug. 2 in Chicago.

"It's all about making adjustments," said Hughes, who threw a career-high 123 pitches. "I could have let that outing in Anaheim snowball into a few rough outings in a row. To be able to have a good one like this after a rough one and not let things continue to slide downhill, it's a good feeling. But it's one start and I have to build on this one."

Even with the poor performance in Anaheim, Hughes (5-5, 4.96), is 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA in his last six starts. He did make it 11 straight starts in which he has given up at least one home run, this one a prodigious shot by Prince Fielder in the fourth. It was his ninth of the season.

But that would be all, and the homer wasn't all that damaging as the Yankees still led 3-1 at the time.

Verlander (5-4, 2.67), meanwhile, lost his third straight start for the first time since 2008. He allowed five runs -- three earned -- and nine hits in 61/3 innings.

Jeter (two hits) was more than ready for the first pitch of the afternoon, sending the 90-mph fastball over the wall in right. It was the 27th time in his career he's hit a leadoff home run.

"He seems to get stronger as the game goes on, so you'd like to score runs early every time you face him," Jeter said of Verlander, who struck out four and walked four. "But not too many people have had much success. We were fortunate today. He was struggling with his command a little bit. But you're never comfortable when you're facing him."

Curtis Granderson and Rodriguez followed Jeter's homer with walks, and each moved up when Verlander crossed up catcher Omir Santos for a passed ball. Verlander, who needed 26 pitches to get through the first, struck out Robinson Cano, but Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly to center made it 2-0.

Rodriguez blasted his ninth homer with one out in the third, a towering shot to left-center on a 3-and-1 pitch, a low 96-mph fastball. It ricocheted off the brick wall where retired numbers are displayed, between Hank Greenberg's No. 5 and Charlie Gehringer's No. 2, and went an estimated 447 feet. "We talked about it in Anaheim," Rodriguez said. "Power's never going to be a problem for me."

The Yankees pushed their lead to 5-1 in the fifth. Granderson doubled and scored on a two-out RBI triple to right-center by Cano, who scored when Danny Worth's relay throw bounced past third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Verlander backing up and went out of play.

The Yankees (29-24), who went 6-3 on the trip, start a six-game homestand against the Rays and Mets Tuesday night.

Overall, although there were two tough walk-off losses on the trip, which started in Oakland, continued in Anaheim and concluded here, Girardi was pleased with his team's performance during the last 10 days.

"I applaud them," he said. "We had a 6-3 road trip in some pretty tough places to go. We lose two games by one run. That's pretty good."

New York Sports