Damon, Wang lead sleep-deprived Yankees to 7-2 victory over Tigers

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DETROIT (AP)—The Yankees sure didn’t look like a team suffering from a lack of sleep.

Johnny Damon homered and tripled, Melky Cabrera added a three-run triple and Chien-Ming Wang delivered eight effective innings, leading New York to a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.

Most players didn’t arrive at the ballpark until two hours before game time, after Detroit beat New York 9-6 the night before in a game that started more than four hours late because of strong storms. Several players said they did not get to sleep until 5 a.m.

“We went through a lot last night,” said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. “We needed Wang to step up and do this for us.”

The win evened the four-game series, and gave the Yankees a three-game edge on the Tigers in the wild-card race. New York still trails the wild card-leading Seattle Mariners by two games, and AL East-leading Boston by 6 1/2 games.

The Yankees send Phil Hughes to the mound Sunday against Jair Jurrjens, while Mike Mussina takes on Detroit ace Justin Verlander on Monday night.

“Obviously, that wasn’t an ideal night of sleep, but it didn’t have anything to do with what happened in this game,” said Detroit’s Brandon Inge. “They just played better than we did.”

Wang (15-6) improved to 5-1 in his last seven starts, allowing two runs— one earned—on five hits. He struck out six, walked one and held the Tigers without an extra-base hit, ending their streak at 89 games. It was Detroit’s longest such streak in at least 50 years.

“I just tried to throw sinkers and keep my pitch count down,” said Wang, who needed only 107 pitches through eight innings.

Wang is now 5-0 in six career starts against the Tigers, including two wins over Jeremy Bonderman this month.

“He needs to pitch like this,” said Yankees pitching coach Rod Guidry. “It’s just what we talked about before the game.”

Bonderman (10-7) fell to 0-6 in his last eight starts. He gave up seven runs, eight hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings. Bonderman did not strike out a batter as Detroit fell to 12-25 since July 19.

“I’m puzzled by the way that keeps happening,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Believe me, if I had any answers, I’d tell everyone, starting with Bondo.”

Opponents entered the game hitting .387 against Bonderman in the first inning, and things didn’t get any better on Saturday.

Bonderman retired Damon and Derek Jeter to start the game, but Bobby Abreu singled, Alex Rodriguez walked and Hideki Matsui hit a two-run double.

The Yankees put it away with four runs in the sixth inning, started by consecutive hits by Matsui and Robinson Cano. After Wilson Betemit walked to load the bases, Cabrera and Damon followed with back-to-back triples to give the Yankees a 7-2 lead.

“I’ve got to pitch better than this,” Bonderman said. “I’ve got to find a way to at least give us a chance to win games. I’m getting two strikes on guys, but I’m not putting them away.”

Abreu went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, and tied a career-high with three stolen bases.

Detroit got a run in the bottom of the first on Magglio Ordonez’s RBI single, but Damon restored the two-run lead with a 412-foot homer to right-center in the third.

“I feel really good,” said Damon, who is hitting .364 since July 20. “I’ve been here before—I know what it takes to get a team into the postseason.”

The Tigers made it 3-2 with an odd run in the fifth. Brandon Inge singled and stole second, before taking third on Posada’s passed ball and scoring on Wang’s wild pitch.

Placido Polanco had his major league errorless streak for second baseman restored before the game, about 20 hours after it came to an apparent end.

He was given an error for a first-inning throw on Friday, but the official scorer gave the error to first baseman Marcus Thames after reviewing replays and talking to first-base umpire Hunter Wendelstadt.

Polanco has now gone 149 consecutive games without an error. ^NOTES: The game drew a sellout crowd of 44,250 on a perfect night. … Matsui went 2-for-3 against Bonderman, raising his career average against him to .526 (10-for-19). … Bonderman had struck out at least one batter in every start since July 21, 2003, a span of 126 starts.

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