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 10 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.
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 postsesaon.
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 Alex 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.
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