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Tigers win Game 3, 5-4

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia wipes

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia wipes his face during the fourth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS. (Oct. 3, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

DETROIT - The Yankees' nightmare scenario is upon them: Depending on a pitcher they didn't want on the mound in this ALDS to save the season.

The Yankees fell to the Tigers, 5-4, Monday night in front of a thunderous crowd of 43,581 at Comerica Park, putting them on the brink of elimination.

Trailing two games to one in the best-of-five series, the Yankees will send A.J. Burnett (11-11, 5.15) to the mound against Detroit's Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.75) Tuesday night as they try to send the best-of-five series to the Bronx.

"The weight of the world isn't on his shoulders, it's on our shoulders,'' Mark Teixeira said of Burnett. "It's a team game and we have a chance to win as a team tomorrow.''

Said Russell Martin, "I think it's a good spot for him. I think he's a high-energy pitcher and will feed off the adrenaline.''

Rafael Soriano, the only Yankees pitcher who can give Burnett a run for his money as most disliked by fans, put a charge into the postseason- record crowd of 43,581 by allowing Delmon Young's opposite- field home run with one out in the seventh that broke a 4-4 tie.

Soriano -- who had picked up two outs to strand a runner at third after relieving CC Sabathia in the sixth -- allowed a first-pitch homer by Young, who had homered to right off Sabathia in the first inning of Game 1.

The crowd was all but deflated an inning earlier when, in one of the unlikeliest two-out rallies of the season, Brett Gardner sliced a 100-mph fastball from Justin Verlander into the gap in left-center for a two-run double that made it 4-4.

Jorge Posada started the rally with a walk and Martin got hit in the side by a 100-mph fastball. Gardner, who looked helpless while striking out in the fifth, lined a 3-and-2 pitch into the gap to tie it.

In the ninth, Jose Valverde issued a one-out walk to Posada and a two-out walk to Gardner but fanned Derek Jeter to end it.

It was the matchup of aces that fans got to see only 1½ innings of Friday, with Verlander taking on Sabathia.

Verlander, the likely AL Cy Young Award winner, allowed two runs in the first, then dominated before allowing two more in the seventh. He gave up six hits and three walks and struck out 11 in eight innings.

Sabathia allowed four runs, seven hits and six walks in 51/3 innings.

"I thought the zone was small tonight,'' Joe Girardi said. "No disrespect to anyone, but that's what I thought. That's what I saw.''

Sabathia wasn't blaming plate umpire Gerry Davis, though. "I'm not going to sit here and say it was the umpire's fault,'' he said. "I just didn't make pitches when I had to . . . It's my fault.''

Said Martin, "I thought it was a little bit tight, but he stayed consistent. That's what you ask for in an umpire.''

Jeter, coming off an 0-for-5 Game 2, swung at the night's first pitch, a 94-mph fastball, and sent it back up the middle for a single. Curtis Granderson fell behind 1-and-2 but then sent a 97-mph fastball over centerfielder Austin Jackson's head for an RBI triple.

After Verlander struck out Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, 0-for-10 with three walks after three games, worked a full count. With the infield in, he sent a slow chopper to shortstop. Jhonny Peralta looked home, and looked as if he might have a play on Granderson, but took the sure out at first as Granderson scored.

Sabathia allowed five walks in the first three innings but was helped by three double plays as he was able to limit the Tigers to two runs in that span.

Despite having almost no command of his fastball and allowing three walks in the first inning, Sabathia escaped without allowing a run.

He walked Jackson but got Ramon Santiago to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. Young and Miguel Cabrera also drew walks, but Sabathia got out of the inning by getting Victor Martinez to strike out on an 83-mph slider. It was Sabathia's only swing-and-miss pitch of the 28-pitch inning.

After Verlander needed only seven pitches to set down the Yankees in order in the second, Sabathia walked Magglio Ordoñez to lead off the bottom half. It was his fourth walk, matching his season high. But Sabathia got Peralta to hit into a 6-4-3 double play and struck out Alex Avila. At that point, the Tigers had put two balls in play, both of which turned into double plays.

Verlander needed eight pitches to put down the Yankees 1-2-3 in the third and the Tigers tied the score at 2 in the bottom of the inning, though it could have been far worse for Sabathia.

Brandon Inge, 11-for-58 (.190) in his career against Sabathia entering the game and a .197 hitter in the regular season, led off with a double to center. Jackson walked, Santiago lined a single to left for a run and Young singled to load the bases. Cabrera then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to tie it at 2.

Inge's single and Santiago's RBI double in the fifth made it 3-2 and Don Kelly's bunt single and Peralta's RBI double in the sixth gave the Tigers a 4-2 lead.

The Yankees rallied, but now they could be down to their final game of the season.

"We have to win a game, nothing changes,'' Jeter said. "You come out here ready to play and win a game. We've won a game before.''

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