DETROIT — After a rough start last month at Yankee Stadium, Max Scherzer insisted he pitched better than his stats showed.
Back in the more spacious confines of Comerica Park, the right-hander had no trouble shutting down New York.
Scherzer pitched eight scoreless innings, and Magglio Ordonez homered for the first time this season to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 4-0 win over the Yankees on Wednesday night. Scherzer allowed four hits and two walks, striking out nine, and he labored only toward the end of a 109-pitch outing.
“You can’t back down,” Scherzer said. “You’ve got to go right after them, and that was my mentality the whole night.”
Scherzer (5-0) allowed six runs in five innings in New York on April 3, giving up four home runs in a game the Tigers won 10-7.
“Two home runs there that could have easily been very different,” Scherzer said. “That’s baseball. That’s the way it is. They hit the balls hard, and I made some mistakes that game, but I also felt like I didn’t pitch bad.”
Since then, he’s been sharp. Wednesday’s performance lowered his ERA to 3.15.
Scherzer allowed a leadoff single to Derek Jeter in the first, then retired 10 straight hitters, striking out four in a row at one point. Detroit opened the scoring with a run in the second when Victor Martinez, Ordonez and Jhonny Peralta hit consecutive singles.
Martinez was activated Wednesday from the disabled list after being out with a strained right groin.
Ordonez has been in a horrendous slump to start the year, but he had two hits Wednesday, including a two-run homer in the third that gave the Tigers a four-run lead. Detroit has won its last two since a seven-game losing streak.
Freddy Garcia (1-2) pitched seven-plus innings for the Yankees, allowing four runs on 10 hits. He walked two and struck out eight.
Garcia downplayed an apparent dustup in the dugout after he gave up the home run, saying he was just frustrated with himself and not upset with catcher Francisco Cervelli.
“I have no reason to be mad at him. I’m the one throwing the ball,” he said. “If I don’t want to throw the pitch, I don’t throw the pitch. We agreed to throw it, and bad things happened.”
Detroit scored three runs in the third on an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera and Ordonez’s towering home run to left field. Ordonez is still hitting only .188, but he has four hits in his last two games.
The home run was his second extra-base hit of the year.
Manager Jim Leyland shuffled the lineup with Martinez back, dropping Ordonez from third to sixth. Brennan Boesch hit third, followed by Cabrera and Martinez. Those four players in the middle of the order reached base twice apiece.
That was plenty of offense for Scherzer, who struck out every Yankees starter except Curtis Granderson. The right-hander breezed into the eighth inning before finally encountering trouble. After a walk to Brett Gardner and a single by Cervelli, he got Jeter to fly out to shallow right. The speedy Granderson then grounded into a double play.
That inning cost Scherzer a chance at a complete game.
“The eighth inning for Max turned out to be what I call a stressful inning,” Leyland said. “If he’d cruised through the eighth — got three outs on five or six pitches — I probably would have sent him out there. But not after the eighth inning.”
Jeter left in the middle of the eighth, replaced at shortstop by Eduardo Nunez. After the game, the Yankees said Jeter was day-to-day with an injured right hip.
Jeter said he thought he’d be able to play Thursday.
“It’s not a big deal,” Jeter said. “It’s not an injury. It’s just one of those things that happens throughout the year. It was a little sore and Joe decided to take me out for the ninth.”
Alberto Albuquerque pitched a hitless ninth for Detroit.
Cervelli and Garcia were involved in a strange play in the sixth when Alex Avila stole second. Garcia’s pitch was low, and Cervelli had a hard time getting a grip on the ball. When he finally released it, his throw to second was so low it whizzed inches behind Garcia as the pitcher was kneeling at the mound.
NOTES: Before the game, a few Tigers showed off pink shoes they received from sponsors to wear on Mother’s Day this weekend. RHP Rick Porcello had a bright pink pair, with darker pink trim. “I can call my mom and tell her I love her on Mother’s Day,” Porcello said. “I don’t have to wear these shoes.” … Yankees RHP Carlos Silva allowed two runs and three hits over three innings in his first start for Class-A Tampa on Wednesday night. The right-hander was released by the Chicago Cubs during spring training and agreed to a minor league contract with New York on April 9.