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Tigers 5, Yankees 3

Scherzer, Tigers even series

Max Scherzer gave the Tigers quite a kick, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning in a Game 2 win against the Yankees. Max Scherzer gave the Tigers quite a kick, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning in a Game 2 win against the Yankees. (Kathy Willens/Associated Press)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / October 3, 2011

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NEW YORK - The ball that dropped in front of Tigers left fielder Delmon Young for a single was something, at least. The Yankees had gone 5 1/3 innings without a hit off Max Scherzer. That was largely the way it would stay, until the ninth.

That was when the Yankees made their rally: Nick Swisher solo homer, Jorge Posada triple, the winning run coming to the plate in Robinson Cano.

That was where it would end, though, with Cano grounding out, stranding two runners, as the Tigers beat New York yesterday, 5-3, and evened their American League Division Series, 1-1.

After walking two and throwing 26 pitches in the first inning, Scherzer got through the next three innings in 36 pitches. No one reached base.

The Yankees’ bats, which had scored nine runs the previous game, were being silenced by Scherzer, who had been given a two-run lead in the first inning when Miguel Cabrera took Freddy Garcia deep.

“Big stage and he was terrific,’’ Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Scherzer (six innings, two hits, no runs). “There was no question about it, he was terrific today against a great lineup. He powered the ball pretty good, mixed his pitches well, got some outs with changeups. He pitched a terrific game.’’

Scherzer ran into trouble in the fifth, walking Posada and hitting Russell Martin, but he got out of the jam. Scherzer induced a liner to third from Brett Gardner, and a fielder’s choice from Derek Jeter. Inning over.

“I thought he had great movement on his fastball today and I thought he had great movement on his changeup,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He just kept us from putting the barrel of the bat on the ball.’’

Curtis Granderson led off the eighth inning with a home run against reliever Joaquin Benoit, but the Yankees’ 3-4-5 hitters (Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira) never got the ball out of the infield to end the inning. Rodriguez’s pop to second drew boos from the home crowd.

“I’m not worried about it,’’ said Rodriguez, who is 0 for 8 in the series. “I’m in a situation where, you can’t get caught up in what’s happened the last month, what’s happened the last at-bat. Every at-bat counts.’’

Girardi said after the game that he had no plans to change his lineup.

Then, as the rain began falling at Yankee Stadium in the ninth inning, the Yankees made their bid to sweep the first two games. Swisher hit his homer off closer Jose Valverde, then Posada followed with a triple, of which Girardi smiled and said, “That’s real unlikely.’’

After Martin walked, Andruw Jones hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3.

There was one out, but the Yankees kept battling.

Jeter struck out. Granderson got a gift walk after Alex Aviles slipped on the on-deck circle and missed an easy pop-up. The tying run was on, but Cano couldn’t bring him home.

“You think that something’s going to happen good for us,’’ Jeter said. “But Valverde, it’s hard enough to score a run off him, let alone four. But I thought we had some good at-bats. We battled there at the end, but we just fell short.

“For a moment there, you think we may catch a break.’’

That makes the series a best-of-3 as it heads to Detroit for Game 3 tonight, giving the Tigers home-field advantage. The return to Detroit brings a renewal of the Game 1 pitching matchup that was supposed to headline this series, but got washed out instead: New York’s CC Sabathia vs. Detroit’s Justin Verlander.

“That was our No. 1 goal, to come here and split,’’ Scherzer said. “If you’re able to do that, now the way the situation happened with the rain, now we’re able to give Ver the ball for Game 3.

“For us, we have to like where we’re sitting.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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