DETROIT (AP)—The New York Yankees know their star-studded team has to keep scrapping for wins to turn around a lackluster season.
Tony Womack hit an RBI single with two outs and an 0-2 count in the ninth to break a tie and Bernie Williams followed with a three-run homer to lift New York to an 8-4 comeback victory Saturday night over Detroit.
The Yankees (40-39) have rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning or later in each of their last three victories.
“It was a big hit for Tony, but a bigger hit for the (Bronx) Bombers,” said Alex Rodriguez, who scored the go-ahead run after snapping an 0-for-15 slump with a double. “We needed that win on the road, grinding it out like that. When you’re scratching and clawing and you get a victory, you feel good.”
Williams finished with five RBIs, matching a season high, and a season-high four hits that moved him past Don Mattingly for fifth place on the Yankees’ career list with 2,157 hits.
“There’s been so much talk about him getting on in age, but with that comes longevity where you’ve been with one organization, which doesn’t happen very often,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “I’m pleased for him.”
Dmitri Young’s three-run homer gave Detroit a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning before the Yankees came back with two runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and four in the ninth off closer Troy Percival (1-2).
“The Yankees may struggle, but that’s a team you never take lightly—there are too many great players over there,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “There’s a lot of time for them to get going.”
With a little more than half the season left, Torre said his players shouldn’t worry about the teams ahead of them in the AL East and wild-card race.
“We just have to fight,” he said. “There’s plenty of baseball left and we’re very fortunate that we’re as close as we are, playing .500 ball. They’re trying, nobody is throwing in the towel and that’s the most important thing.”
Tom Gordon (2-3) entered the game in the seventh for New York, and retired five straight before Carlos Guillen reached on an error and Magglio Ordonez walked. Gordon got out of the eighth unscathed by striking out Ivan Rodriguez, who reacted by whipping his bat toward Detroit’s dugout, hitting Young’s foot in the on-deck circle.
“That was big,” Torre said. “He picked everyone up striking out Pudge.”
Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth, extending the longest active scoreless streak in the majors to 21 innings.
New York’s Mike Mussina started and finished strong, but was roughed up in the fourth inning. He gave up four runs—all in one inning—on seven hits while striking out five and walking none. He didn’t give up a hit until Craig Monroe hit an infield single with one out in the third inning, then gave up just two hits over his final two innings.
Fernando Rodney relieved Douglass and gave up a run on two hits, getting only two outs.
Rodriguez hit a one-out double off Percival in the ninth. Hideki Matsui then popped out and Jorge Posada was intentionally walked, bringing Womack, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for Jason Giambi, to the plate.
“The Yankees have been a great challenge for all 11 years I’ve been in the league,” said Percival, who made his 600th appearance. “I’ve never had a big problem against them, but they got me.”
Womack had just nine hits in his previous 61 at-bats.
“I know I can play, that’s all that matters,” he said.
Detroit went up 4-1 in the fourth on two singles, a double and a home run. Placido Polanco singled and scored on Ordonez’s double and Young followed with his 13th homer.
Alex Rodriguez led off the sixth with a strikeout, but reached on a passed ball that skipped off the edge of Ivan Rodriguez’s glove, then Matsui walked. Both scored on Williams’ single.
In another setback for New York’s rotation, Carl Pavano will not start on Sunday because of a sore shoulder… Ivan Rodriguez was presented with his Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards before the game. … The Yankees acquired pitchers Darrell May and Tim Redding from San Diego for Paul Quantrill, but both are expected to go to Triple-A Columbus … OF Rondell White was out of the lineup for the Tigers with a sore shoulder. … Ordonez has a home run, a double and three RBIs in two games since returning from the DL.