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Aces Wild: Verlander, Sabathia meet again in pivotal ALDS Game 3

Detroit's Justin Verlander and New York's CC Sabathia square off once again this evening when the American League Division Series shifts to Comerica Park for a pivotal Game 3.

The two aces started Friday's Game 1, but rain caused a suspension, leaving both Verlander and Sabathia's outings cut short. Verlander gave up a run and threw 25 pitches in his inning of work, while Sabathia tossed 27 pitches and allowed a solo home run in his two innings of action.

"I think it's going to be a big game no matter what, whether it's Game 1 in Yankee Stadium or Game 3 in Detroit," Verlander said. "Obviously, there will probably be more publicity now in Game 3 because of what occurred and all of the news that encompassed it with me and CC facing off again. ... Either way, it's going to be an exciting game."

Verlander, who is vying to become the league's first pitcher to take home MVP honors since Roger Clemens in 1986, will be trying to pitch Detroit to a series lead after the Tigers evened things up with a 5-3 win on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Miguel Cabrera went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI and even stole a base for Detroit, which bounced back from a 9-3 loss in the first game, despite a shaky outing from closer Jose Valverde in the ninth.

Valverde, perfect in 49 save opportunities in the regular season, entered the ninth with a four-run lead and immediately surrendered a home run to Nick Swisher.

A rare triple by Jorge Posada and a walk by Russell Martin proceeded Andruw Jones' sacrifice fly, cutting New York's deficit to 5-3. Derek Jeter went down swinging, but Curtis Granderson kept the inning alive by working a walk.

Granderson's at-bat was extended after catcher Alex Avila slipped on rain- soaked on- deck circle tracking his foul ball near the visitors' dugout.

Robinson Cano, who drove in six runs in Saturday's suspended opener, ended the rally by grounding out weakly to second, effectively snapping the Yankees' seven-game win streak in the ALDS.

"We had our shot. Our guys continued to play hard," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's the best of three now."

Max Scherzer (1-0) did his best Verlander impression in his first postseason start, as he took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out five. The 15-game winner wound up allowing two hits and four walks and was pulled after putting the first two hitters on in the seventh.

Tonight it will be Verlander, who put forth one of the best years ever by a Tigers starter and won the league's pitching Triple Crown, going 24-5 with a 2.40 earned run average and 250 strikeouts.

Verlander finished the year strong, winning 12 straight starts before earning a no-decision in his final outing on Friday.

The hard-throwing righty, though, earned two no-decisions against the Yankees this season and is a mere 4-3 lifetime against them with a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts. The Yanks are also the only team that Verlander faced twice and did not beat.

Sabathia, meanwhile, fell a win short of becoming the first Yankees starter to post back-to-back 20-win seasons since Tommy John back in 1979-80, but ended the year 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA.

"They're all big games at this point in the season," Sabathia said. "I'll just try to go out and get off to a good start, pound the strike zone and hopefully pitch well."

Sabathia is no stranger to the Tigers, having faced them 32 times over the course of his career and posting a 15-12 mark to go along with a 4.54 ERA.

"It's a big park and they have a good lineup and some big hitters," Sabathia said. "I don't change my approach park to park."

The Tigers, who beat the Yankees in four games in the 2006 ALDS after losing Game 1, also took four of seven from the Yanks during this season after the two teams split the eight-game season series a year ago.