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Tigers beat Yankees to take 3-0 series lead

Alex Rodriguez watches from the dugout in the

Alex Rodriguez watches from the dugout in the sixth inning of ALCS Game 3 at Detroit's Comerica Park. (Oct. 16, 2012) Credit: AP

DETROIT -- Desperately trying to energize his moribund offense, Joe Girardi moved boldly to shake things up before Game 3 of the ALCS.

But things shook out the same, and after another futile offensive effort, the Yankees find themselves one game from elimination.

This time it was Tigers mega-ace Justin Verlander frustrating an altered lineup that was without Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher in a 2-1 victory in front of 42,970 Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

"You look at this and it could be a number of different things besides 0-3 for us," said Girardi, who again got outstanding pitching, even after starter Phil Hughes left in the fourth inning with a stiff back. "We have gotten good pitching all the way throughout the playoffs and we will need it again tomorrow if we want to live another day."

CC Sabathia, who almost single-handedly carried the Yankees into this round with a superb effort in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Orioles, starts Wednesday night against Max Scherzer to save the season.

Scherzer, like Verlander, is a hard-throwing righthander, but Russell Martin said, with no disrespect meant, it's not the same.

"He's not the same pitcher," Martin, who battled a sore right thumb throughout the night, said of Scherzer. "He's a great pitcher but he doesn't have the type of stuff Verlander does. I don't think anybody does."

Pitchers this postseason haven't needed great stuff to beat the Yankees, who nonetheless infused the ninth with some drama.

Eduardo Nuñez, getting the start at short, led off with a homer to left. After Brett Gardner tapped back to Verlander, he left after 132 pitches.

Jim Leyland brought in former Yankees lefthander Phil Coke, who saved Game 2. Ichiro Suzuki had two hits off Verlander but grounded out to second. But Mark Teixeira bounced a single up the middle, and Robinson Cano ended an 0-for-29 slump by slicing a single to left.

That brought up Ibañez, who homered twice in Game 1. After he fouled off a 3-and-2 pitch, he struck out swinging at a slider.

"I didn't get it done," said Ibanez, who has done it so many times in recent weeks. "He made a pitch and I didn't hit it."

And now, of all teams, Yankees fans are left to look to the 2004 Red Sox for inspiration, Boston being the only MLB team to come back from an 0-3 deficit, doing so against the Yankees.

The ninth inning aside, little evidence exists the Yankees will be successful. Because, although he might like to do it at this point, Girardi can't bench everyone. A-Rod and Swisher rode the pine as Eric Chavez started at third and Gardner, who missed five months because of an elbow injury, played left and hit leadoff.

"Hoping Gardy can ignite us a little bit and put some tough at-bats early in the game," Girardi said before the game.

Gardner went 0-for-4. Chavez, 8-for-22 against Verlander, went 0-for-3, but Nuñez, Girardi's choice to start at short, came through.

Cano was among the non-hitting who got to stay in the lineup. The second baseman, who finished the regular season on a 24-for-39 tear, went 1-for-4 to drop to 3-for-36 this postseason.

Curtis Granderson went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, dropping to 3-for-29 with 15 strikeouts this postseason.

"Sometimes you try too hard when you want it so bad," said Teixeira, suggesting, though not saying it, that some may be pressing at the plate.

"But we're going to fight. We always fight. Things haven't been going our way, there's no doubt about that. But again, everyone in here wants to win. We've worked too hard for this. I don't fault anybody's effort or preparation. It just hasn't happened for us."

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