NEW YORK -- Anibal Sanchez pitched a season-high 6 2/3 innings and John Hicks lifted a three-run homer as the Tigers defeated the Yankees, 4-3, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. New York now trails Boston by a half-game in the American League East, as the Red Sox topped the Indians on a walk-off homer in the ninth.
Sanchez has struggled for much of this season, but he kept opposing hitters off-balance and buckled down with runners in scoring position, holding the Yankees to one hit in six at-bats in those situations.
"He's moving the ball down and away, and in," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's jamming some guys. The changeup was good. The slider was very good tonight."
With Jacoby Ellsbury representing the tying run at third against Shane Greene, the Tigers intentionally walked Brett Gardner to bring up rookie Clint Frazier. Gardner stole second, putting the potential go-ahead run in scoring position, but Frazier popped up to shortstop to end the game.
"I had a good opportunity to score one or two runs right there," Frazier said. "I didn't come through for us. I've got to be better next time."
Didi Gregorius singled home Gary Sanchez in the eighth inning to bring the Yankees within a run, which forced Ausmus to call upon Greene for a five-out save. Greene, who was making his first appearance as closer, got Matt Holliday to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play to end the eighth before escaping the jam in the ninth.
The Tigers got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia early on, first when Hicks hit his fourth homer of the season in the second inning. Justin Upton cracked a solo home run with two outs in the third to put the Tigers ahead, 4-0.
Sabathia, who was making his 500th career regular-season start, said both his slider and changeup were ineffective, which allowed Tigers hitters to foul off tough pitches that normally would've put them away. Both home runs he allowed came with two strikes.
"I give him a lot of credit," manager Joe Girardi said. "He didn't have his slider or his changeup. They weren't very good, and he managed to give us six innings and keep us in the game."
Gregorius provided most of his team's offense on Tuesday. In addition to his eighth-inning single, he ripped a two-run homer in the fourth inning, which had an exit velocity of 104.6 mph, according to Statcast™.
The Tigers had a chance to provide some insurance runs for Greene in the ninth, but Gardner threw out James McCann at the plate trying to score on a single by Andrew Romine, ending the inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hicks homers: Hicks fouled off four two-strike pitches before sending the 10th pitch of the at-bat against Sabathia just over the right-field wall. Although the homer had just a 16-percent hit probability, according to Statcast™, it gave the Tigers an early 3-0 lead.
"Runner on third, I was just trying to get the ball in the air, get the run in," Hicks said. "He threw me some tough pitches; [I] just got a piece of them. He left a backdoor slider kind of over the plate. Didn't think it was going to go out, but it carried pretty well here."
Going Greene: Greene's first save as a closer was no small task. With a runner on first and one out in the eighth, he entered to face Holliday, who already had two hits. Greene got Holliday to hit into an inning-ending double play and overcame his own throwing error in the ninth to record his third career save, and first since July 21, 2016.
"I know I had to get five outs before they score one run," Greene said, "so that's what I did." More >
"We're not here to lose games. We're here to win. We'll still continue to play hard, and there's guys in this locker room that care. Just because we got rid of guys at the Deadline doesn't mean we're just going to give up. We're all still professional baseball players in here, professional athletes, and our mindset is to win every day." -- Ian Kinsler, on the Tigers' approach after selling at the non-waiver Trade Deadline
"That's probably the difference in the game. It's a tie game, it doesn't guarantee that we're going to win the game. You never know what's going to happen after that. That was one opportunity that we squandered." -- Girardi, on the Yankees not being able to score in the third after Tyler Wade led off the inning with a double
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann (6-8, 5.69 ERA) will look for his second win since June 3 when he starts Wednesday's rubber game at 1:05 p.m. ET. It'll be his first career appearance at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees:Masahiro Tanaka (8-9, 5.09 ERA) takes the mound for the Yankees in the final game of the series against the Tigers on Wednesday. Tanaka set a career high in his last outing with 14 strikeouts Friday against the Rays.