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Yankees use homers to beat Tigers in season opener

Apr 1, 2011 - 12:29 AM Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - Mark Teixeira hit a three-run homer and Curtis Granderson slugged a go-ahead solo blast in the seventh, helping the New York Yankees open the season with a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

CC Sabathia pitched six innings in the start for the Yankees, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out seven.

The New York bullpen shut down the Tigers from there, tossing three perfect frames. Joba Chamberlain (1-0) got the win, while Mariano Rivera earned his first save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth.

"It was great to see the way we did it," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "Tex has a three-run homer, big homer by Grandy, get six innings from your starter. Bam, bam, bam, go to your bullpen. Works out nice. It's how you draw it up."

The Yankees are coming off a season in which they won 95 games and advanced to the American League Championship Series before losing to Texas.

Brandon Inge finished with two hits and one RBI for Detroit, which went 81-81 last season.

Tigers starter Justin Verlander allowed three runs and struck out eight in six innings, but only after surviving a shaky start. He tossed 31 pitches and walked two batters in the first inning.

In the third, he gave up a leadoff single to catcher Russell Martin, who the Yankees signed in the offseason. Martin advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third after Derek Jeter walked.

Verlander then delivered a fastball up and in to Teixeira, who crushed it to right field. It was just inside the foul pole and gave New York a 3-1 lead.

But Verlander got through the rest of his start unscathed. He was perfect in the fourth and fifth, and struck out his final two batters in the sixth.

"After giving up the home run to Teixeira, then the goal changes to, ok, let's keep our guys in it. Hopefully we can scrap and battle and get some runs," Verlander said. "We were able to do that. I was pleased especially after that."

Meanwhile, Sabathia never gave up the big blow, but allowed runs after getting into several jams.

He was in a big one in the second, when the Tigers had the bases loaded with nobody out. But after Jhonny Peralta flied out to center to bring in Miguel Cabrera, Sabathia retired Inge on a soft liner before striking out Alex Avila.

Detroit put two on with one away in the fourth, and after Peralta flied out again, Inge hit a run-scoring single to left.

The Tigers had a big run-scoring opportunity in the fifth, thanks to an error that allowed them to have two on with nobody out and the heart of the order coming up. But they came away with just one run. Magglio Ordonez grounded into a fielder's choice, Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly and new designated hitter Victor Martinez grounded out.

The sac fly made it a 3-3 game, and the score stayed that way until the seventh.

Phil Coke (0-1) -- who was involved in the trade that sent Granderson to the Yankees after the 2009 season -- took over for Verlander. The first batter he faced was Granderson, who won the battle by slugging a homer to right. The ball was belt-high and on the outer part of the plate, and Granderson, who was recently battling a strained oblique, took advantage for his third consecutive opening game home run.

Martin then reached on Inge's throwing error, moved to second on a bunt, and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Ryan Perry, who had just come into the game. Jeter's sacrifice fly got Martin home and made it a 5-3 contest.

That was all the lead the Yankees needed. Chamberlain pitched a scoreless seventh and Rafael Soriano set the Tigers down in order in the eighth. After Nick Swisher hit an RBI single in the eighth, Rivera sealed the victory.

Game Notes

Jeter entered the 2011 season 74 hits shy of 3,000. He finished 0-for-2 Thursday...The Tigers signed Martinez to a four-year contract in November...Alex Rodriguez doubled and walked twice for New York...Detroit left six on base.