Brandon McCarthy's control deserted him early on, and the New York Yankees' winning streak came to a discouraging end.
McCarthy allowed five runs — even letting one of them score on a bases-loaded walk — and the Yankees lost for the first time in six games Tuesday night, 5-2 to the Detroit Tigers. New York entered the day 2 1/2 games behind Seattle for the American League's second wild card.
"You don't ever want nights like this, but especially not against a team like this at this time of the year," McCarthy said. "Games are starting to get a lot more important, and I can't have games like this."
McCarthy entered the day with only seven walks in 52 innings since the Yankees acquired him from Arizona in early July, but after J.D. Martinez singled to start the Detroit second, the New York right-hander walked Nick Castellanos and hit Eugenio Suarez one out later. A walk to Rajai Davis forced in the game's first run.
McCarthy (5-3) ended up allowing nine hits in 6 1-3 innings.
"I never felt sharp, and I never felt comfortable mechanically," McCarthy said. "This happens to everyone — you just have a game where the ball won't go where you want it, and you have to find a way to battle through it."
Jacoby Ellsbury provided all of New York's scoring with a pair of home runs.
Martinez's RBI single in the third made it 2-0, and then Ellsbury cut the lead in half with his first home run of the night in the fifth.
The Tigers added two runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Castellanos and a double-play grounder by Alex Avila. Torii Hunter's RBI single in the seventh made it 5-1 and chased McCarthy.
Ellsbury hit his 13th homer in the eighth.
Detroit's Rick Porcello pitched eight impressive innings to set a career high for victories. Porcello (15-8) joined teammate Max Scherzer as the American League's only 15-game winners, allowing two runs and nine hits.
"Porcello, he's been doing it. He's been getting a lot of groundballs," Hunter said. "He always gives us a chance to win and that's all you can ask."
Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 28th save in 34 chances. First baseman Miguel Cabrera made two nice plays to close out the win.
The game started after a rain delay of 1 hour, 8 minutes.
Yankees SS Derek Jeter received a standing ovation when he came to the plate for the first time Tuesday. Barring a postseason meeting, this series will be the retiring star's last in the state where he went to high school. Jeter had two hits.
BACK IN A GROOVE
Martinez raised his average to .312 with a three-hit night, and with Cabrera somewhat hobbled, the Tigers will take extra offense from anyone.
Martinez struggled immediately after the All-Star break, but he's hitting .338 since Aug. 8.
Yankees: OF Brett Gardner sat out a third straight game with a right ankle injury, but 1B Mark Teixeira was back in the lineup after sitting out Monday to rest a sore left hamstring. Teixeira went 0 for 4.
"Gardner ran inside today and said he felt a lot better, so we're hopeful about (Wednesday)," manager Joe Girardi said.
Tigers: Cabrera returned after missing Sunday's game with a right ankle issue. He doubled in the third. In the eighth, he went to his knees to field Brian McCann's grounder and start a double play.
Yankees: RHP Shane Greene (3-1) takes the mound against the Tigers on Wednesday night. New York has won each of Greene's last four starts.