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Published: Tuesday, 4/28/2009

Verlander slams door on Yankees


DETROIT - Justin Verlander pitched like the ace the Detroit Tigers need him to be for a change.

The New York Yankees wish they could say the same about CC Sabathia.

Verlander had a season-high nine strikeouts, and Magglio Ordonez hit a two-run homer off Sabathia, leading the Tigers to a 4-2 win over the Yankees Monday night for their third straight win.

"When he's ahead in the count, he's almost unhittable," Detroit catcher Gerald Laird said. "Tonight was the Justin we expect to see every night."

Verlander (1-2) pitched seven-plus scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and no walks.

The hard-throwing right-hander resembled the rising star he was in his first two seasons, not the pitcher who struggled last year and in his first four starts this season.

He hadn't pitched at least seven innings without giving up a run since late in the 2007 season.

"That's by far the best I've seen him throw," Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira said. "He was throwing 95 [mph] to 99 all night, and you just don't see many starters with that kind of velocity."

Verlander became the first pitcher in baseball history to throw a no-hitter, start a World Series game, be a rookie of the year and an all-star in his first two full seasons.

Last year, he was 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA and was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his first four starts this season.

The Yankees gave Sabathia a $161 million, seven-year contract last winter as a free agent, banking on him to stop skids.

They're still waiting.

Sabathia (1-2) gave up four runs and six hits as New York lost its fourth straight game to match the most consecutive losses it had last season.

He did, though, pitch his first complete game with the Yankees and the 27th of his career. He led the majors with 10 complete games last year with Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Sabathia said it was "definitely" his best outing of the year.

"I was attacking the zone, and I was able to get swings early in the count," he said.

Detroit got to Sabathia right away with two hits in the first inning, including Miguel Cabrera's RBI single.

Sabathia was solid over the next four innings before allowing Curtis Granderson's bunt single, which he struggled to cover, Placido Polanco's double, and Ordonez's two-run homer that bounced off the top of the right-field wall.

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