AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT (AP) _ Justin Verlander took a shutout into the ninth
inning and the Detroit Tigers held on to beat the New York Yankees
2-1 Tuesday night for a 3-0 lead in the AL championship series.

Phil Coke gave up consecutive singles with two outs in the ninth
before striking out postseason star Raul Ibanez for his second save
in two games.

Verlander allowed only a pair of singles by Ichiro Suzuki and a
leadoff homer by Eduardo Nunez in the ninth. Delmon Young hit a
solo home run for the Tigers, and Miguel Cabrera had an RBI double.

Yankees starter Phil Hughes was lifted in the fourth because of
a stiff back, and manager Joe Girardi’s lineup shuffle _ Alex
Rodriguez was benched again _ failed to snap New York out of its
untimely hitting funk.

Detroit can complete a sweep and earn its second pennant in
seven years Wednesday night when Max Scherzer pitches against
Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

The Tigers were on a historic pitching run even before their ace
took the mound Tuesday. With the exception of a four-run ninth
inning against Detroit closer Jose Valverde in Game 1, New York had
been shut out for the entire series.

Nunez’s homer snapped a streak of 37 innings by Detroit starters
without allowing an earned run, the longest in a single postseason
in the live-ball era.

Verlander fell just short of a second straight shutout after
stopping the Oakland Athletics in the decisive fifth game of the
division series. He struck out only three but kept New York off the
scoreboard until the homer to left field by Nunez, the first run
allowed by the powerful right-hander since he gave up a leadoff
homer to Coco Crisp in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Verlander got Brett Gardner on a tapper before he was lifted
after 132 pitches, one shy of his career high set in Game 5 of last
year’s ALCS against Texas. Coke came in and allowed two-out hits to
Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, with the latter snapping a drought
of 29 at-bats without a hit.

But Ibanez, who hit tying and winning homers in the same game in
the ALDS against Baltimore and tied Game 1 of this series with a
homer in the ninth, struck out swinging at a breaking ball to end

Verlander, the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, came
within three outs of becoming the first pitcher in 24 years to
throw consecutive shutouts in the postseason, according to STATS
LLC. Orel Hershiser did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988,
blanking the New York Mets in Game 7 of the NL championship series
and the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the World Series.

Valverde’s meltdown nearly cost Detroit the first game of this
series, but the Tigers were able to win 6-4 in 12 innings. Coke
closed out a 3-0 victory in Game 2 and was able to hold on Tuesday
in a tense final inning.

Hughes matched Verlander in a scoreless duel until Young led off
the Detroit fourth with a line drive over the wall in left field.
It was his seventh homer in the last two postseasons _ he’s already
the Tigers’ career leader in that department.

Five of those homers _ in only eight games _ have come against
the Yankees.

Andy Dirks followed with a walk, and Hughes was pulled with an
0-2 count on Jhonny Peralta. David Phelps came on and got out of
the inning, but the Yankees now have a pitching injury to go along
with all their hitting problems.

Hughes allowed a run and three hits in three-plus innings. He
walked three and struck out one.

The Yankees kept it close, dodging several Detroit rallies. The
Tigers added an unearned run in the fifth when Eric Chavez _
Rodriguez’s replacement at third _ misplayed a grounder. Cabrera,
the AL Triple Crown winner, followed with an RBI double.

Cabrera has a 16-game hitting streak in LCS play, breaking a tie
for that record with Manny Ramirez and Pete Rose, according to

But Cabrera hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the
sixth, preventing the Tigers from adding more runs.

NOTES: The Tigers sent RHP Marcelo Carreno and cash to the Cubs
to complete an Aug. 5 trade in which Detroit acquired utility man
Jeff Baker from Chicago. … Cabrera moved from his usual third
base spot to where the shortstop would normally play as part of a
defensive shift against Teixeira in the fourth _ then had to run
all the way back to catch a popup in foul ground. … The starters
for the 1905 New York Giants threw 44 straight innings without
allowing an earned run for the postseason record, according to

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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