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Tigers, Rangers take 2-1 series lead in playoffs

DETROIT (AP) — Justin Verlander struck out 11 in eight gritty innings and Jose Valverde stopped a New York Yankees rally for the second straight night, whiffing Derek Jeter with two on to close out the Detroit Tigers’ 5-4 victory Monday.

Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking homer in seventh off Rafael Soriano and the Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American League playoff, pushing the Yankees to the brink of elimination.

Their hopes ride Tuesday night on A.J. Burnett, the $82.5 million pitcher who was so unreliable this season that he wasn’t supposed to get a start in this series.

A rainstorm changed all that when Game 1 was suspended Friday night, forcing both teams to alter their pitching plans.

Verlander and New York ace CC Sabathia were back on the mound after their series-opening matchup at Yankee Stadium was halted after only 1 1/2 innings.

While Sabathia didn’t make it through the sixth Monday, Verlander was still hitting 100 mph on the stadium radar gun in the eighth.

Valverde took over in the ninth — and another dramatic ending followed. The All-Star closer, who was perfect in 49 save chances this season, walked two and got a warning-track flyout before striking out Jeter to end it.

Trailing by four in the ninth on Sunday, the Yankees scored twice against Valverde before he got Robinson Cano to ground out with two on to close out a 5-3 victory in Game 2.

Rangers 4, Rays 3

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Back on the road in the playoffs, the Texas Rangers won again.

Colby Lewis outpitched All-Star David Price, Mike Napoli hit a go-ahead two-run homer and the defending AL champions survived a shaky night from the bullpen to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Monday night in Game 3 of their postseason series.

The Rangers’ fourth straight division series road win matches the third-longest streak in major league history and gives Texas a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4 Tuesday at Tropicana Field. Texas won three ALDS games here a year ago, when it eliminated Tampa Bay in five games.

Rookie Desmond Jennings hit a pair of solo homers for the Rays, who kept it interesting by scoring twice off Rangers relievers before Neftali Feliz got four outs for his second save of the series.

Andre Beltre singled leading off the seventh against Price and took second a wild pitch. A crowd of 32,828 — the first sellout at Tropicana Field since opening day — fell silent when Napoli lifted a 2-2 pitch into the seats in left-center for a 2-1 advantage. Josh Hamilton extended the lead with a two-run single off reliever J.P. Howell.