Detroit, MI – Eric Chavez has filled in nicely at third base since Alex Rodriguez went down with an injury.
Chavez continued his hot streak with a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth inning, and the New York Yankees hung on to beat the Detroit Tigers, 4-3, and split a four-game series.
The former Oakland All-Star had two hits and scored twice for the Yankees, giving him a .467 batting average (14-for-30) in his last nine games. The game was not without drama, however, as Rafael Soriano ran into some trouble in the ninth.
Mark Teixeira preceded Chavez's blast with a tying homer, his 21st of the season.
Alex Avila led off the Tigers' last effort with a double and moved to third on Omar Infante's single. Detroit was unable to push across the equalizer, though, after Ramon Santiago lined out softy to second, Quintin Berry popped out weakly to short and Andy Dirks flied out to center.
It made a winner of Clay Rapada (3-0), who recorded two outs in the seventh to help New York win the last two games of this series.
Avila added a two-run homer for Detroit, which lost for only the third time in its last 19 home games. Joaquin Benoit (1-3) gave up Chavez's blast to receive the loss.
Detroit scored all its runs in the fifth, when New York manager Joe Girardi was ejected on a play that put the Tigers ahead for the first time.
Jhonny Peralta led off with a double, and Avila's homer quickly tied the game at two. Ramon Santiago reached on an infield single, and, two batters later, Dirks sent a bloop down the left-field line.
The ball caught the chalk, though third-base umpire Tim Welke originally called the ball foul. He immediately changed to fair -- the correct call -- and play continued as if it were called fair from the start.
Quintin Berry, who was on first after a fielder's choice, raced around to score and give Detroit a 3-2 lead, but Girardi took exception to Welke's call and was tossed from the game.
Tigers starter Doug Fister was lifted with one out in the seventh after allowing two runs on eight hits, and Octavio Dotel was able to strand a runner on second. Benoit, however, could not duplicate Dotel's success.
After getting Robinson Cano to ground out, Benoit went 2-0 to Teixeira, who hammered the following pitch over the fence in right to tie the game. Chavez became aggressive and launched the next offering into the left-field bullpen to put the Yankees ahead, 4-3.
"My numbers aren't very good against him," Chavez said of facing Benoit. "In fact, they're pretty terrible. I was looking for a heater and I believe he left a changeup kind of up and away. I just saw it out of his hand."
Detroit put a runner on second with one out in the eighth, but could not tie the game, and it squandered an enormous opportunity in the ninth with a chance to take the series.
"It's frustrating to get a loss any day, but on the bright side we fought through it the whole time," Fister said. "Guys are playing together, guys are swinging the bats, playing defense. It just didn't fall our way today."
The Yankees had the lead in the early innings after a Raul Ibanez RBI triple and a Ichiro Suzuki RBI single in the second.
New York starter Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 frames...The start of the game was delayed 29 minutes due to weather...Soriano earned his 27th save of the season.