DETROIT — Johnny Damon hit a homer in his first game against the team that didn't re-sign him, helping the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 5-4 on Monday night.
Austin Jackson, a former Yankees prospect, gave Detroit a three-run lead in the second inning.
Phil Coke, also an ex-Yankee, retired two before Ryan Perry got Derek Jeter to line out to end the eighth with two on and down a run. Jose Valverde struck out the side for his ninth save.
Valverde, who has blown only one save, fanned Nick Swisher, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez much to the delight of 34,365 fans.
Mark Teixeira's two-run home run pulled New York within a run in
the third inning.
Brennan Boesch hit a two-run single in the first after Rodriguez's two-out throwing error and the rookie hit an RBI triple in the seventh to give the Tigers a 5-2 lead.
Detroit needed the cushion.
The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs against Zumaya in the eighth and former Tiger Marcus Thames hit an infield single to pull within two runs and chase the Detroit reliever. Brett Gardner hit an RBI groundout against Coke and Randy Winn popped out against him.
With the crowd on its feet for a full-count pitch, right fielder Magglio Ordonez made a sliding snag of Jeter's liner near the right-field line.
Sergio Mitre (0-1) gave up four runs — three earned — on five hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings.
Damon's solo shot in the fifth put the Tigers ahead 4-2 and chased Mitre.
Damon helped the Yankees win the World Series last year for the first time since 2000 in the final season of his $52 million, four-year contract. He initially wanted a long-term deal at the same average salary, but the Yankees didn't value him that much and kept reducing their offer, claiming payroll constraints.
The Yankees took on a bigger salary when they acquired center fielder Curtis Granderson from Detroit in a three-way trade with Arizona, sending prospect Jackson and Coke to the Tigers.
At least short term, the deal has been in the Tigers' favor.
Granderson hit .225 in 23 games before going on the disabled list with a groin injury. Jackson entered the series opener with a .371 batting average and had reached base safely in 25 straight games before going 0-for-4 Monday night. Coke was 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA in 16 appearances before facing his ex-teammates with the bases loaded in the eighth.
New York had plenty of chances to score more runs, stranding nine runners over the first eight innings before failing to put the tying runner on base against Valverde.
Zumaya got Winn to fly out with the bases loaded in the sixth to end New York's chance to score in that inning, pitched a perfect seventh and gave up a bases-loaded the next inning. Coke inherited the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth and Gardner hit a run-scoring groundout against him and Winn popped out.
Detroit's Brad Thomas gave up two runs in three innings. Eddie
Bonine (3-0) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Joel Zumaya
gave up two runs on three hits and two walks after pitching well for 1
Thomas took Willis' spot in Detroit's rotation Monday night in the series opener and gave up two runs over three innings.
Damon signed an $8 million, one-year deal with Detroit after the start of spring training. … The Tigers have the area's undivided attention in early May for the first time since 2001, when the Red Wings had a first-round exit in the NHL playoffs and the previous year the Pistons weren't in the NBA playoffs. … Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera said before the game Jeter should be able to bypass the five-year wait for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. "He should be the exception," Cabrera said. … The Tigers honored late broadcaster Ernie Harwell by raising a flag with his initials at Comerica Park during a pregame ceremony, which included Grammy-winner Jose Feliciano singing the national anthem in a tribute to his friend.
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