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Cervelli goes deep twice; Kuroda struggles vs. Tigers

Backup catcher helps start comeback after righty allows six runs in 3 2/3 innings

TAMPA, Fla. -- Anibal Sanchez opened with four strong innings before the Yankees came back to tie the Tigers, 7-7, in Grapefruit League play Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli homered twice to center for the Yankees, one off Sanchez leading off the third and one off reliever Evan Reed to start the bottom of the fifth.

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Sanchez retired the first six batters he faced, and 11 of the first 12. When he left the game, he had given up one run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

After the game's first pitch was delayed 26 minutes by a late-morning deluge, the Tigers didn't waste any time jumping on Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda in the first.

Ian Kinsler led off with a single up the middle and Don Kelly followed with a sharp base hit to right. Kinsler went to third on the play and scored on an error charged to Yankees third baseman Kelly Johnson for letting the throw skip away, allowing Kinsler to score and Kelly to move up to third.

A sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez brought Kelly home. Alex Avila followed with a single and Tyler Collins flied out. Then came three more hits: Trevor Crowe singled, Nick Castellanos split the outfielders in right-center for a two-run double and Bryan Holaday singled. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild visited the mound. Kuroda got out of the inning when center fielder Mason Williams threw Castellanos out at the plate.

Kuroda ended up allowing six runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. His first two times through the lineup, 10 of 18 hitters he faced reached base, while two of the outs he recorded came when Tigers runners were thrown out on the bases. Another was a sacrifice fly. That's a sharp contrast to Kuroda's first two Grapefruit League appearances, in which he pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just two hits while striking out seven.

Kuroda gave up his final two runs in the third, on a leadoff single by Martinez and back-to-back one-out doubles by Collins and Crowe, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a run on the day.

When Hernan Perez singled with one out in the fourth, it meant that every Tigers starter had a hit.

New York scored three runs against Tigers left-hander Ian Krol in the eighth. The key hit was a two-out, bases-loaded ground-rule double by Zelous Wheeler that drove in a pair of runs.

Zoilo Almonte's two-run homer off Jose Ortega tied the game in the ninth. The teams played a scoreless 10th before calling the game.

Up next: The Yankees will split up on Thursday for a pair of games that can be seen on MLB.TV. Right-hander Michael Pineda will continue his bid to nail down the fifth spot in the rotation at George M. Steinbrenner Field vs. an Orioles' split squad at 1:05 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, No. 4 starter Ivan Nova will pitch for a Yankees' split squad against the Phillies at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., at 1:05.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for

New York Yankees, Francisco Cervelli, Hiroki Kuroda