DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Tigers had at least a couple opportunities to beat the New York Yankees and take a four-game series.
Joaquin Benoit blew one of the chances.
Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez hit solo home runs on consecutive pitches off Benoit in the eighth inning to put New York ahead, and the Yankees held on to beat Detroit 4-3 Thursday.
Benoit (1-3) has given up four homers in a five at-bat stretch, including two in an extra-inning loss to Cleveland last week, and seven homers in 10 games since the All-Star break.
``He hasn't been keeping the ball in the ballpark very well,' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
The previously reliable Benoit even has a teammate feeling sorry for him as a fellow pitcher.
``You feel their pain, their struggle,' Detroit starter Doug Fister said after allowing two runs on eight hits over 6 1-3 innings.
After Benoit gave up a one-run lead, the Tigers had another shot to at least extend the game.
Alex Avila led off the ninth with a double and pinch-runner Gerald Laird advanced to third on Omar Infante's single. Yankees closer Rafael Soriano escaped the first-and-third, no-out jam by getting Ramon Santiago out on a soft lineout, retiring Quintin Berry on a popup and getting Andy Dirks on a flyball.
``We let a golden opportunity get away there in the ninth,' Leyland said.
At that point, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was relegated to watching the game play out on TV.
Girardi was ejected during a demonstrative argument with third base umpire Tim Welke after a fair-or-foul call in the fifth inning. He became upset after Dirks hit a go-ahead double down the line because Welke put his hands up to indicate it was a foul ball then signaled it was fair.
``It was unique, to say the least,' Leyland said.
Replays weren't conclusive as it to where it landed.
Girardi raised his arms several times, tossed his cap and had to be separated from Welke more than once by second base umpire Bob Davidson. As he walked off, Girardi gestured that Quintin Berry should go back to first base and Dirks should bat again. Girardi insisted he wasn't playing to the roaring crowd at Comerica Park.
``That's not my personality,' he said. ``I was just still very perturbed.'
Girardi has been ejected three times this season, all against Detroit.
New York led early, and late, for a second straight victory after dropping the first two games in Detroit.
The Yankees scored twice with two outs in the second on Raul Ibanez's triple and Ichiro Suzuki's single.
Alex Avila's two-run homer tied it in the fifth and Dirks' double put the Tigers ahead and led to Girardi being tossed.
Clay Rapada (3-0) got the last two outs with one on in the seventh inning.
Detroit, which went 5-2 on its homestand, plays Friday night at Texas.
``It doesn't get any easier,' Leyland said.
NOTES: Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera drew laughter in the first inning between pitches. New York starter Hiroki Kuroda sailed a pitch over catcher Chris Stewart, it caromed off the backstop toward home plate and Cabrera leaped to snatch the ball just before it would've landed in Stewart's glove. ... Avila and Infante have 10-game hitting streaks. ... The Tigers outrighted OF Don Kelly's contract to Triple-A Toledo.
The Associated Press News Service
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