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Tigers 8, Yankees 3

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Prince Fielder made sure Detroit didn't blow another lead in the Detroit Tigers' 8-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday.

The Tigers have taken the lead first in all four of their games this season -- and won just half of them.

Detroit scored a run in each of the first two innings in its home opener but lost the lead when Kevin Youkilis capped a three-run fifth with a two-run homer to put the Yankees on top 3-2.

Fielder won a lefty-against-lefty matchup against Boone Logan when he clubbed a three-run homer on the second pitch he saw in the bottom of the fifth and added a two-run shot his next time up in the seventh off Shawn Kelley. In between, Alex Avila added a home run for the Tigers.

Detroit had a 3-0 lead at Minnesota in the season opener and hung on for a 4-2 win. It took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning of the second game, but the Twins ralled for two in the ninth and a 3-2 victory. The Tigers were on top 2-0 after 2 1/2 innings on Thursday and eventually lost 8-2.

It was the 25th time Fielder has hit more than one home run in a game in his career. Attendance of 45,051 was the largest for a home opener in Comerica :Park's 14 seasons and second largest overall.

Detroit southpaw Drew Smyly worked the final four innings against New York's largely lefty lineup to get his first career save.

Fielder's three-run homer in the fifth gave the Tigers a 5-3 lead.

Logan was brought in to pitch to Fielder after starter Ivan Nova hit Miguel Cabrera with a pitch with a man on third and two out. Fielder took a strike and then launched his first home run of the season into the seats in right.

New York grabbed a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth when Youkilis hit a two-run homer after Doug Fister had wild-pitched home the Yankees' first run.

The Yankees suffered a potentially damaging loss in the fourth when shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who has been filling in for injured regular Derek Jeter, was hit in the right arm by a Doug Fister pitch and suffered a bruised biceps.

Nunez, his face contorted in agony, went down on the ground and stayed there for more than a minute while being examined. He left the game hunched over, his right arm hanging down, and was replaced on the bases by Jayson Nix, who stayed in the game to play short. There was no immediate news on the severity of the injury.

Detroit took an early lead for the fourth straight game with single runs in the first two innings.

Cabrera grounded into a forceout with runners on first and third in the first, beating the relay by a half-step. Omar Infante's RBI single in the second scored Andy Dirks, who had walked leading off and stolen second.

NOTES: The signing of former Tigers closer Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract was "a no-brainer" in the mind of Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "We'll take a look, see what happens," he said. Valverde will report to Detroit's extended spring training for some throwing, perhaps pitch a game or two for high Class A Lakeland, and if that goes well should be bumped up to triple-A Toledo. ... New York right-hander Phil Hughes (upper back) was scheduled for a rehab start Saturday for triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He threw seven scoreless innings Monday in an extended spring game. ... Retiring Yankees closer Mariano Rivera "in my personal opinion ... has been the best (closer) of all time," Leyland said. "You didn't hear of relief pitchers way back. But he's the best of the modern era." ... Jeter has no target date for a return to action, according to manager Joe Girardi. Jeter is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday but has not played in any games while rehabbing at New York's spring base. ... Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda threw a bullpen session Friday and New York expects him to make his next scheduled start against Cleveland if he shows up Saturday with no adverse reaction. Kuroda suffered a bruised right index finger on Wednesday. ... Leyland likes to use his bench as much as possible and intends to give left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo his first start Sunday against Yankees left-hander C.C. Sabathia. Backup catcher Brayan Pena will also get his first start in a Detroit uniform in the same game.
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