DETROIT - With the season on the line and no better options, the Yankees sent A.J. Burnett to the mound and hoped for the best.
New York's $82.5 million enigma came through when his team needed him most.
With the help of a huge first-inning catch by Curtis Granderson, Burnett pitched effectively into the sixth, and the Yankees routed the Detroit Tigers 10-1 Tuesday night to send their AL playoff series back to the Bronx for a decisive fifth game.
"It doesn't make a difference what you've done in the past," Derek Jeter said. "We wanted him to go out there and pitch well. Trust me, I'm pretty sure all the New York fans will remember this game as opposed to some of the other games."
The Yankees didn't plan to start Burnett in this series. Not after he posted a 5.15 ERA during the regular season, the third-worst in the majors among qualifying pitchers.
But New York didn't have much of a choice after Game 1 was suspended by rain Friday and took two days to finish. So Burnett it was.
New York's worst fears appeared justified in the first. In fact, the Yankees' bullpen was already stirring when Burnett walked three hitters, one intentionally, to bring up Don Kelly with two outs and the bases loaded.
Kelly hit a hard line drive to center field. Granderson appeared to misjudge the ball at first before backing up and jumping at the last second to rob Kelly of an extra-base hit.
"If I miss that one, there's nothing there but the wall back there and some ivy," Granderson said. "Who knows what could have happened at that point especially with it being the first inning. We get behind in an elimination game, here in Detroit, the fans stay in it."
Instead, the hopeful vibe at Comerica Park subsided quickly. Jeter rebounded from a game-ending strikeout Monday, putting the Yankees ahead to stay with a two-run double in the third. Granderson also had an RBI double and New York broke it open with six runs in the eighth.
After helping his beleaguered pitcher out of that early jam, Granderson added another spectacular catch a short while later.
"We don't win that game tonight without defense," Burnett said.
Burnett allowed a run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
"I told you, his stuff is so good that he can shut you down. I thought we hit some balls pretty decent. He wasn't real sharp early. We had our shot," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That was a big play in the first inning."
Game 5 is Thursday night in New York and rookie right-hander Ivan Nova, who shut down the Tigers in the opener, will start against Doug Fister. Both came on as relievers Saturday after Game 1 began Friday night but was halted after 1½ innings.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said ace CC Sabathia, who started Monday, should be available in relief for Game 5.
Goldschmidt's 5 RBIs help Diamondbacks stay alive
PHOENIX - The Arizona Diamondbacks put one rookie on the mound and another in the No. 5 spot in the batting order in a game they had to win.
Both seemed oblivious to the pressure. Both came through brilliantly.
And the Diamondbacks lived to play another day.
Josh Collmenter, he of the unorthodox tomahawk-throwing pitching style, shut down Milwaukee's big hitters for the third time this season and Paul Goldschmidt hit the third grand slam by a rookie in postseason history in an 8-1 rout on Tuesday night that cut the Milwaukee Brewers' lead in the best-of-5 series to 2-1.
Neither player was on Arizona's opening day roster, Collmenter coming up from Triple-A Reno first as a reliever, then becoming a starter. Goldschmidt didn't arrive from Double-A Mobile until Aug. 1.
"They didn't break camp with us, but we tried to lay it out how we were going to approach this and expose them to as much as we could," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "And then when they both came up, we put them right in the fire."
The victory forced a Game 4 Wednesday night at Chase Field, where the raucous crowd of 48,312 was an obvious factor in Arizona's one-sided win, just as it was in Milwaukee when the Brewers won the first two games.
"It was awesome," Goldschmidt said. "Now to be back home and hear almost 50,000 people screaming for us is awesome."
If Arizona wins Game 4, the deciding Game 5 will be Friday in Milwaukee in a rematch of Game 1 starters Ian Kennedy of the Diamondbacks and Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers.
The Diamondbacks never led in the first two games of the series, but jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning of Game 3 on an RBI double by Miguel Montero and a run-scoring single by Goldschmidt, who tied a franchise postseason record with five RBIs.
Francisco lifts Phils over Cards for 2-1 NLDS lead
ST. LOUIS - Charlie Manuel disregarded the numbers. He knew Ben Francisco was the right man for the job. Ryan Madson, too.
Francisco came on with a pinch-hit, three-run home run to provide the only offense the Philadelphia Phillies needed in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead in their NL division series.
Madson got the last five outs to save Cole Hamels' seventh postseason win.
So much for the fact none of Madson's 32 saves this season lasted more than an inning. So much for Francisco's postseason futility and his lack of success against Jaime Garcia before his game-changer.
"All that matters is we're here today and whatever you do today is going to pretty much define you," Francisco said. "Charlie put me up there and I got a big hit."
The Phillies, favored to win it all after a franchise-record 102 wins, can finish off the wild-card Cardinals in Game 4 on Wednesday, with Roy Oswalt opposing Edwin Jackson and 19-game winner Roy Halladay on deck.
"We have two Roys going for us if we need to get to that second one and you have to feel pretty good about your chances when that's the case," reliever Brad Lidge said. "But you can't take these guys lightly at all because they show why they're such a tough team."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa's decisions in the crucial seventh inning were ripe for second-guessing. He let Garcia bat in the sixth with two men on and then let Garcia keep pitching, and both moves backfired.
Garcia struck out on Hamels' 117th pitch to end the sixth and keep it scoreless, and just a few minutes later served up a fat pitch that Francisco hammered over the left field wall and into the visitor's bullpen.
"Well, it didn't work, so that's bad managing," La Russa said. "I'm watching him pitch and was really pleased. I thought he was the guy to continue pitching and I knew the matchups were in our favor. It didn't work."