DETROIT (AP) — All day long, Nick Swisher was a little more upbeat than usual.
Swisher hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning off closer Jose Valverde and the New York Yankees beat Detroit 5-3 on Monday night, handing the Tigers their seventh straight defeat.
Afterward, the outfielder talked about what this win meant to him, one night after President Barack Obama announced that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
“Those guys are out there fighting for our freedom and giving us the opportunity to be able to play this game. With all the excitement last night in the city of New York, obviously we wish we could have been there to experience that,” Swisher said. “But I think today was definitely just one of those positive days. Everything just kind of seemed like things were going to go our way. It was nice to be that guy in that position.”
The Tigers rallied from a 3-0 deficit, tying it in the seventh on Alex Avila’s second solo home run of the night, but the Yankees broke through in their last at-bat against Valverde (2-1). With runners on first and second and one out, Swisher singled up the middle and Mark Teixeira scored from second with a slide. Alex Rodriguez added another run when he scored from third on a passed ball by Avila.
Joba Chamberlain (2-0) got the win by pitching a scoreless eighth, and Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his 11th save.
The Tigers were hoping ace Justin Verlander would be able to halt their skid, but he struggled early, allowing a two-run double to Jorge Posada in the first inning. Posada’s hit came with the bases loaded and would have cleared them if the ball hadn’t bounced over the wall in left-center.
Eduardo Nunez, playing in place of an ailing Robinson Cano, hit an RBI double for the Yankees in the second.
Verlander went six innings, allowing three runs and eight hits. He walked four, struck out eight and threw 127 pitches, three short of his career high.
“To be honest, that was the best I’ve felt all season,” he said. “My fastball was so strong that I couldn’t get it down, and that was getting me behind in the count and in trouble. In the long run, it is a positive if I feel this good, but I have to be able to control it.”
Curtis Granderson went hitless in his return to Comerica Park. Granderson was traded from the Tigers to the Yankees in December 2009. He was injured when the Yankees visited Detroit last year.
Granderson did draw two walks, including a 12-pitch effort to start the ninth that set the tone for the inning against Valverde. Granderson was caught stealing when he overslid second base, but the Yankees kept the rally going.
“You usually look at your closer as a guy who’s going to get 20 pitches or less,” Granderson said. “To take up almost half of that … I think it hopefully benefited some of the guys.”
Teixeira followed with a walk and Rodriguez reached on an infield single when third baseman Brandon Inge couldn’t make a play on his chopper. Swisher then singled to center for the go-ahead run.
“All I’m trying to think of is, you’ve got to battle with a guy that has got great stuff,” Swisher said. “Tonight was definitely one of those fighting days, and like I said, I was just fortunate to be the guy in that spot.”
New York starter Bartolo Colon went seven innings, allowing three runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts. Avila got the best of him twice, and Ramon Santiago had three hits, improving to 11 for 20 in his career against Colon.
“Every time I face him, he gets a hit off me,” Colon said through a translator. “I tried my best, but he always ends up with a base hit.”
The Yankees have won five of six. Monday was the start of a seven-game road trip for them after they played only seven of their first 25 games away from home.
Cano sat out with what he described as a bone bruise on his left hand. He said he hurt himself taking a pickoff throw during Sunday’s game against Toronto, but he hopes to play Tuesday.
Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI single in the third for Detroit to make it 3-2, but the Tigers never came close to a big inning.
NOTES: The game was played 72 years to the day after Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 consecutive games ended in Detroit. … The Yankees said tests on RHP Phil Hughes (right shoulder inflammation) came back negative for any circulatory or vascular issues. … Detroit DH Victor Martinez (strained right groin) was scheduled to start a rehabilitation assignment Monday night with Triple-A Toledo. … The Yankees have signed LHP Brad Halsey to a minor league contract. He is working out at extended spring training. … New York RHP Luis Ayala (strained back muscle) has joined Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after pitching Saturday at extended spring training.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)