Back to the Bronx


DETROIT (AP) -- With the season on the line and no better options, the Yankees sent A.J. Burnett to the mound and hoped for the best.

New York's $82.5 million enigma came through when his team needed him most.

With the help of a huge first-inning catch by Curtis Granderson, Burnett pitched effectively into the sixth, and the Yankees routed the Detroit Tigers 10-1 Tuesday night to send their AL playoff series back to the Bronx for a decisive fifth game.

"It doesn't make a difference what you've done in the past," Derek Jeter said. "We wanted him to go out there and pitch well. Trust me, I'm pretty sure all the New York fans will remember this game as opposed to some of the other games."

The Yankees didn't plan to start Burnett in this series. Not after he posted a 5.15 ERA during the regular season, the third-worst in the majors among qualifying pitchers.

But New York didn't have much of a choice after Game 1 was suspended by rain Friday and took two days to finish. So Burnett it was.

New York's worst fears appeared justified in the first. In fact, the Yankees' bullpen was already stirring when Burnett walked three hitters, one intentionally, to bring up Don Kelly with two outs and the bases loaded.

Kelly hit a hard line drive to center field. Granderson appeared to misjudge the ball at first before backing up and jumping at the last second to rob Kelly of an extra-base hit.

"If I miss that one, there's nothing there but the wall back there and some ivy," Granderson said. "Who knows what could have happened at that point -- especially with it being the first inning. We get behind in an elimination game, here in Detroit, the fans stay in it."

Instead, the hopeful vibe at Comerica Park subsided quickly. Jeter rebounded from a game-ending strikeout Monday, putting the Yankees ahead to stay with a two-run double in the third. Granderson also had an RBI double and New York broke it open with six runs in the eighth.

After helping his beleaguered pitcher out of that early jam, Granderson added another spectacular catch a short while later.

"We don't win that game tonight without defense," Burnett said.

Burnett allowed a run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.

"I told you, his stuff is so good that he can shut you down. I thought we hit some balls pretty decent. He wasn't real sharp early. We had our shot," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That was a big play in the first inning."

Game 5 is Thursday night in New York and rookie right-hander Ivan Nova, who shut down the Tigers in the opener, will start against Doug Fister. Both came on as relievers Saturday after Game 1 began Friday night but was halted after 1 1/2 innings.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said ace CC Sabathia, who started Monday, should be available in relief for Game 5.

Granderson was on the Detroit team that went to the World Series in 2006, but the Tigers traded the popular outfielder to the Yankees as part of a three-team deal after the 2009 season.

Max Scherzer, a pitcher Detroit received in the trade, left his mark on this series with an impressive Game 2 start. Then it was Granderson's turn.

After hitting 41 home runs during the regular season to become an MVP contender, Granderson made the biggest impact Tuesday with his glove.

Burnett is in the third season of an $82.5 million, five-year contract. He's been largely a disappointment, but he gave the Yankees the start they needed while facing elimination.

"Once that first inning was over after Curtis saved me, I was able to take a breath," Burnett said. "Then our offense took over."

Detroit starter Rick Porcello hit Jorge Posada with a pitch to start the third, and Russell Martin followed with a single. Brett Gardner struck out looking and disputed the call with plate umpire Dan Iassogna for a bit, but Jeter hit a drive to deep center that speedy Austin Jackson wasn't able to run down. Both runners scored on the double to give New York a 2-0 lead.

After holding the Tigers hitless through three innings, Burnett allowed Victor Martinez's leadoff homer in the fourth. One out later, Jhonny Peralta doubled down the left-field line, but Burnett struck out Alex Avila and Wilson Betemit to end the inning.

Martin and Gardner led off the fifth with singles. After Jeter bunted into a force play at third, Granderson doubled to right, driving in a run. Alex Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.

Porcello allowed four runs and five hits in six innings.

"I thought Porcello really threw the ball well. He made a bad pitch to Derek on the double," Leyland said. "The ball had good life. He actually pitched well, to hold that team down like he did."

Rafael Soriano relieved Burnett in the sixth, and Peralta lifted a fly to left-center. Granderson came sprinting over and made a diving catch even more impressive than the first one, sliding across the outfield grass on his belly after making the grab. He appeared shaken up for a bit afterward, but stayed in the game.

Teammates stood and clapped in the dugout as Granderson trotted in. Burnett came over to give the center fielder a hug.

The Yankees had lost five straight postseason road games when facing elimination, starting with Game 7 of the 2001 World Series at Arizona. New York was eliminated in Game 4 at Detroit in the 2006 division series, but the Tigers couldn't pull off a repeat performance.

The Yankees broke it open with six runs in the eighth. Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque balked in a run, and the Yankees added two more on singles by pinch-hitter Jesus Montero and Gardner.

Daniel Schlereth threw a wild pitch later in the inning that bounced all the way over the screen, allowing another run to score. Robinson Cano's two-run single sent fans at Comerica Park toward the exits.

"We let it get out of hand," Leyland said.

Rangers 4, Rays 3

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is what Adrian Beltre envisioned when he signed with Texas in the offseason. Balls jumping off his bat in October, the Rangers making another run for the pennant.

Beltre hit three straight home runs and the defending AL champions advanced again, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in Game 4 Tuesday to win their playoff matchup.

Beltre put on a power show that few players in major league history have matched, helping Texas take the best-of-five series and ending the Rays' remarkable run to the wild-card spot. The Rangers next play the Detroit Tigers-New York Yankees winner.

"From my point of view, Texas gave me the best chance to put a ring on my finger," Beltre added, "and I am just two steps away from it. Hopefully that happens."

Ian Kinsler led off the game for Texas by homering on the second pitch from rookie Jeremy Hellickson.

Then it was Beltre's turn. He came into the game in an 1-for-11 slump in this series before breaking loose.

Maybe Beltre's best day as a pro.

"I think besides my first big league hit, this is right up there," said the slugger, who spent last season with the Boston Red Sox. He's back in the postseason for the first time since 2004, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It was the seventh time a player has homered three times in a postseason game -- Adam Kennedy was the last to do it, for the Angels in 2002. Babe Ruth did it twice, while Reggie Jackson, George Brett and Bob Robertson also are on the list.

Beltre connected in his first three at-bats. Given a chance to tie the big league record of four homers in a game, he hit a routine flyout in the eighth against Wade Davis.

"I was just trying to get a run there. Hit a line drive somewhere, maybe in the gap because they were trying to come back. ... Winning the game was more important for me than to hit the (fourth) homer," Beltre said.

Neftali Feliz gave up a run in the ninth inning before closing for his third save of the series, preserving the victory for Matt Harrison.

Texas won for the fifth straight time on the road overall -- all at Tropicana Field -- in the opening round. The Rangers eliminated Tampa Bay in five games last year, winning three times in the Rays' home stadium.

Beltre hit solo shots off Hellickson in the second and fourth innings, and added another solo drive against Game 1 winner Matt Moore in the seventh.

The Rays weren't the only ones who had trouble keeping up with Beltre -- a television cameraman trying to run alongside Beltre to capture the image as the star jogged home did a face-first pratfall.

Beltre and Kinsler tied for the team lead with 32 homers, and Beltre had been on a late-season tear going into the playoffs. The Rangers finished with just six hits in the clincher.

Texas reached the World Series for the first time last year, but lost to San Francisco.

Down 2-0 early, the Rays literally rammed their way back into the game.

Sean Rodriguez drew a one-out walk in the second and took off when Matt Joyce lined a two-out double to the gap in right-center field. Rodriguez barreled around third base and plowed into catcher Mike Napoli, jarring the ball loose. Rodriguez knocked Napoli backward, scrambled to his feet and touched the plate with his hand.

It was the second plate collision in the playoffs this year. St. Louis' Jon Jay ran over Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz in an unsuccessful attempt to score during Game 2 of the Cardinals' matchup against the Phillies.

Manager Ron Washington and the Rangers trainer left the dugout to check on the woozy Napoli, who remained in the game. Napoli got more attention in-between innings and stayed in the lineup.

The play energized the crowd of 28,299, about 4,000 less than Monday night, which was announced as a sellout. But several innings later, the Rays' season was over.

Rodriguez scored all three runs for the Rays. He drew a one-out walk and scored on Casey Kotchman's single in the ninth, but Feliz retired the next two batters.

"It's huge, but we've still got a lot on our minds," said Ranger pitcher Derek Holland, who won Game 2 in Arlington and worked 1 1-3 scoreless innings in relief in the clincher. "We want to win the whole thing, and that's what we're going to try to do from here."

Tampa Bay certainly gave its faithful, and fans everywhere, quite a ride in the final month. Manager Joe Maddon's team overcame a nine-game deficit against Boston in the wild-card standings, then rallied from seven runs to beat the Yankees on the last day of the regular season to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years despite a small payroll.

"It's sour the way it ended. You feel like you have done more. We really, really have nothing to hang our heads about," said Evan Longoria, whose 12th-inning homer beat the Yankees and put the Rays in the postseason.

"We had our opportunities. Our bullpen and starting pitchers gave us a chance," he added. "It came down to offensively not getting it done."

Harrison, who made a relief appearance in the Rangers' loss in the series opener, pitched five innings and won in his first postseason start. The Texas bullpen took over after that.

Texas' five consecutive division series road wins matches the second-longest streak in big league history. The Atlanta Braves won a record eight straight from 1995-99 and the Yankees won five in a row from 2003-05.

Moore stymied the powerful Texas lineup by working seven scoreless inning in the opener at Arlington. The Rays brought him on again in hopes of holding the Rangers to a 3-2 lead, and it looked like the move might work. The 22-year-old lefty retired the first six batters he faced before Beltre led off the seventh with an opposite-field shot into the stands in right.

"It's always painful, especially being around the league for this long," said Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon, finishing his 17th season. "We had a good enough team to win, and keep on winning. It just seemed Texas definitely had our number."

NOTES: Before Tuesday, the Rays had sold out every previous postseason game ever played at Tropicana Field -- eight in 2008, three in 2010 and Game 3 on Monday night... With Hellickson taking the ball, it marked only the 10th time since 1900 that a team used two rookie starters in the postseason. The 2007 Colorado Rockies had been the most recent club do it, using Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales. ... Hellickson, who yielded as many as two homers in a game just twice in 29 starts this season, allowed three runs and four hits in four innings.

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