NEW YORK (AP) — Raul Ibanez hit another tying homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers were tied 4-4 after 11 innings on Saturday night in the opener of the American League championship series.
Three batters after Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-run shot off closer Jose Valverde to cut the Yankees' deficit in half, Ibanez connected for his second tying homer of this postseason, a two-run drive to right-center.
Ibanez started his powerful week pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez against Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson in the ninth inning on Wednesday to send Game 3 of the division series to extra innings. Then he won it with a homer in the 12th inning.
The 40-year-old Ibanez also homered twice after entering as a pinch hitter on Sept. 22 in a 10-9, 14-inning win over Oakland. With New York fighting for the AL East title, he hit a tying pinch homer against Boston in the ninth on Oct. 2 and then singled in the winning run in the 12th.
The Tigers failed to capitalize on pinch-hitter Alex Avila's one-out single off David Robertson in the top of the 11th, and the Yankees missed a chance in the bottom half after Suzuki led off with a single, his fourth hit of the game, off Drew Smyly.
Russell Martin singled leading off the ninth and advanced on defensive indifference. Suzuki followed with the first postseason homer of his career after Derek Jeter struck out. Robinson Cano struck out and Mark Teixeira walked ahead of Ibanez.
Valverde blew a save in Game 4 of the division series against Oakland and has allowed seven runs in 2 1-3 innings this postseason.
The Tigers opened a 4-0 lead against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte and Derek Lowe.
Prince Fielder singled in a run after Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked in the sixth, and Delmon Young followed with a run-scoring single to make it 2-0.
Young then homered in the eighth, and rookie Avisail Garcia had an RBI single three batters later off Boone Logan to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
Jhonny Peralta made two difficult plays to deny the Yankees with the bases loaded in each of the first two innings against Doug Fister.
Peralta made a diving, backhand stop in the hole of Rodriguez's grounder in the first, then made a nice play an inning later on Robinson Cano's liner that caromed off the inside of Fister's right wrist, a play that ended another bases-jammed threat.
Fister worked out of big trouble in the sixth, too. With runners on second and third, the right-hander struck out Rodriguez, and then fanned Curtis Granderson and Martin on breaking pitches after the Yankees loaded the bases.
In Game 2 on Sunday, Anibal Sanchez gets the start for Detroit. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for New York in the first outing of his big league career on three day's rest.
Rodriguez was back in the New York lineup, batting sixth, after being benched for the deciding game of the division series against Baltimore on Friday. Fans gave him a standing ovation as he walked to the plate with two outs in the first. Jeter, Teixeira and Ibanez all reached on walks by Fister.
The 37-year-old third baseman hadn't hit as low as sixth since Joe Torre batted him eighth in the fourth and final game of the 2006 AL division series against the Tigers, according to STATS LLC.
Both teams were coming off difficult division series that went five games. The Tigers beat the Yankees in 2006 and again last year, both times in the division series.
Fister got the win in Game 5 last year. He got off to a wild start in this one, walking three in an inning for just the second time in his career, according to STATS LLC.
With two outs, A-Rod hit a sharp groundball that Peralta dived to his right to snare. From his knees he threw to second base to just get Ibanez sliding in.
In the second, the Yankees used three two-out singles to load the bases, including Jeter's 200th postseason hit.
Cano, who was 2 for 22 in the division series, lined a ball off Fister's pitching arm. It went on a hop to a charging Peralta, whose throw barely beat Cano to first base. Cano slammed his helmet down.
Pettitte was making his 44th postseason start. He breezed through five innings, giving up four singles, including one to Triple Crown winner Cabrera in the first.
But in the sixth, Austin Jackson led off with a soft line drive to the opposite field that went over first base and got caught up in a cutout in the stands about halfway down the right field line. Jackson raced to third for a triple. After an out, Cabrera was walked, and Fielder singled to center. Young then followed with his run-scoring hit.
Teixeira reached on second baseman Omar Infante's error to start the bottom half, and Ibanez doubled, but Fister struck out the side.
New York won the season series between the teams 6-4.
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