DETROIT -- Joe Torre isn't used to putting much trust in a rookie starter.
Chien-Ming Wang has changed that.
"I can't think of any other pitcher with that kind of poise with that little experience," Torre said. "He doesn't surprise me anymore. When we write his name down, we know we don't have to worry about him."
The victory was New York's first in 28 tries this season when scoring three runs or fewer. The Yankees had not won a regular-season game when scoring three or fewer since a 3-2 victory over Toronto in the final game of the 2004 season.
"It's been a while since we've been able to do this," Torre said. "That's significant, because that is how we play -- good pitching and keep the scores low."
Starting in place of the injured Carl Pavano, Wang (5-3) walked one, hit three batters and struck out two. It was the first time the rookie did not allow a run in a start.
"Even when he doesn't have his good stuff, he has the ability to get out of an inning," Yankees catcher John Flaherty said.
Tom Gordon pitched the eighth and Mariano Rivera worked around a leadoff double to Ivan Rodriguez in the ninth, earning his 18th save in 20 tries and finishing the Yankees' first 1-0 victory since July 22, 2004, against the Blue Jays.
"I left the pitch up and Pudge took advantage of it," Rivera said. "After that, I just wanted to get home as soon as possible."
Rivera got a strikeout and two weak grounders to end the game.
"After that double, it was over and out," Torre said. "Mo was unhittable."
Nate Robertson (3-7) took another tough loss, allowing just nine hits in his second complete game in three starts. Robertson is 0-4 at home this season despite a 2.56 ERA.
"A 1-0 game against the Yankees is a hell of a game," Rodriguez said. "We don't score too many runs for him, but that's going to change. He did a tremendous job today, and we're going to back him up."
The Tigers went 1-5 on their homestand and have lost eight of 10 overall.
"This was a big week for us, and we didn't actually do very well," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "As tough as it is, we have to move on."
Both teams missed several scoring opportunities.
Detroit had two runners on in the first two innings, while the Yankees had runners on the corners with none out in the third, only to see Flaherty pop out and Derek Jeter ground into a double play.
New York finally broke through in the fourth, but could have had more than one run.
Robinson Cano led off with a double and scored on Sheffield's single. After a strikeout, Sheffield was thrown out stealing, which cost the Yankees a run when Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui followed with hits.
Torre was pleased with his rookie's poise, but Wang said it wasn't complicated.
"I just try to think about the next hitter and try to slow myself down," he said. "I try to make sure to keep the ball down."
- The game drew 40,056 fans, the third sellout of the series.
- Pavano was scratched because of a sore shoulder. Tanyon Sturtze will start Monday at home against Baltimore, then Randy Johnson will pitch on short rest Tuesday.
- Wang hit Polanco in each of his first two at-bats.
- The Yankees won a road series for the first time since taking two of three from the Mets from May 20-22.
- Detroit's Rondell White, who has not played the field since Tuesday due to a sore shoulder, is expected to be in left field for Monday's doubleheader in Cleveland.
- The Yankees needed 80 games to win with three or fewer runs, the longest into a season in franchise history. The 27 consecutive losses in those games was the longest since losing 36 in a row in 1912.
- Rivera extended his majors-best scoreless streak to 22 innings over 21 appearances.