Curtis Granderson blasted a grand slam home run in the second inning to boost the visiting New York Yankees to a 9-4 victory over his former team, the Detroit Tigers, on Friday.
Granderson's bases-loaded drive into the right-field seats off Tigers rookie left-hander Casey Crosby gave New York a 5-1 lead and they cruised to victory.
New York (28-23) moved into third place in the tight American League East, 1.5 games behind Tampa Bay. The five teams in the division are separated by just three games in the standings.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on eight hits as he tied for the American League lead in wins in improving his record to 7-2.
Crosby fell to 0-1 after his major league debut.
Rafael Soriano, the sixth New York pitcher used, came on in the ninth inning after Clay Rapada loaded the bases with one out. Soriano promptly got Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera to bounce into a game-ending double play to notch his seventh save.
The big home run by Granderson, his 17th of the season, came after Crosby had issued four walks in the inning to hand New York their first run of the game.
"I had to be more aggressive than in my first at-bat," said Granderson, who struck out his first time at the plate.
The clutch long ball was especially sweet for Granderson, who played the first six seasons of his major league career with the Tigers before he was traded to the Yankees before the 2010 season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Granderson developed into a more dangerous hitter once he got comfortable hitting left-handed pitching.
"He's been really important for us," Girardi said. "He's been a great player, offensively and defensively.
"Before he got to us he had some struggled against left-handers at times but he made an adjustment (in) 2010 and he's been a completely different player."
The home run was Granderson's sixth this season against a left-hander.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, editing by Nick Mulvenney)