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Yanks Last W At Tiger Stadium

Tino Martinez was looking more for atonement than memories when he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning Thursday night. His last swing in Tiger Stadium gave him both.

Martinez hit a tiebreaking homer to lead off the ninth as the New York Yankees won their final game in Tiger Stadium, beating Detroit 3-2 Thursday night.

"That was nice," Martinez said, "especially with the mistakes I made earlier."

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  • Martinez was down on himself for grounding into an inning-ending double play to thwart a first-and-third, one-out threat in the sixth. Then he let Luis Polonia's grounder get under his glove at first for a game-tying double in the seventh.

    "At the last minute I dived when I really didn't have to," Martinez said.

    That was all forgotten when Martinez lined a 2-2 pitch from C.J. Nitkowski (1-3) into the upper deck bleachers in right-center to break the 2-2 tie and give Orlando Hernandez (10-6) the win.

    "I was very emotional when Tino hit the ball," Hernandez said through Yankees coach and interpreter Jose Cardenal. "I knew then I had a chance to win the game."

    Hernandez went eight innings to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions. "El Duque" gave up two runs and seven hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts. He struck out the last four batters he faced after Polonia's double.

    "I had pretty good location today," Hernandez said. "I had a good inside fastball, outside fastball and breaking pitch."

    Mariano Rivera got the last three outs for his 22nd save.

    Detroit's loss spoiled another fine effort for rookie Jeff Weaver, who gave up two runs and seven hits in eight innings. Weaver, hit hard in back-to-back losses to Minnesota his last two starts, has no-decisions in six of his last eight outings.

    "It's tough when you play the Yankees so tough and you can't pull it out," Weaver said. "El Duque pitched extremely well, so it was going to go either way. It was just unfortunate it didn't go our way."

    Tigers manager Larry Parrish said Wever made an adjustment after giving up 13 earned runs and 17 hits in just 6 2-3 innings his last two starts.

    "He had started getting up a little bit higher with his arm angle and tonight he got back down," Parrish said. "He started getting more sink than run and he started getting more ground balls."

    Weaver, who has been on strict pitch count most of the year, threw 111 pitches before Nitkowski came on to face the left-handed batting Martinez.

    "I left it up, too good of a strike and he crushed it like he's supposed to," Nitkowski said.

    "That guy's tough," Martinez said. "He's gotten me out in the past."

    The win was just the Yankees' second in six games at Detroit this year. The Tigers, who are moving to a new ballpark next season, were 419-402 at home against New York since Tiger Stadium opened as Navin Field in 1912.

    Ricky Ledee tripled and scored on Chad Curtis' sacrifice fly in the second, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

    Polonia hit a leadoff triple in the third and scored on Bobby Higginson's one-out single for a 1-1 tie.

    The Yankees scored on a bases-loaded forceout from Chili Davis in the sixth. Weaver escaped further damage when Martinez grounded into a double play.

    Weaver got Scott Brosius to hit into a double play to get out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh. The Tigers tied it in the home half when Frank Catalanotto hit a leadoff double and scored on Polonia's two-out double.


  • The Yankees were 0-for-8 and the Tigers 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
  • Detroit is just 4-13 in one-run games.
  • Yankees manager Joe Torre said his favorite Tiger Stadium memory was Reggie Jackson's tape-measure home run off a right-field light tower in the 1971 All-Star Game. Torre had a great view of Jackson's blast; he was playing third base for the NL at the time.
  • Ledee started in center field for the Yankees. Bernie Williams didn't start for the first time all season, although he walked as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
  • Knoblauch was back in the Yankees lineup. He sat out Wednesday's game with a bruised left arm after getting hit by a pitch Tuesday.
  • New York's Derek Jeter reached base nine times (seven hits, two walks) in 15 plate appearances during the series.
  • Catalanotto is 9-for-17 (.529) in his last four games.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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