Austin Kearns added a two-run double and Derek Jeter a two-run triple as New York's offense, still missing Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman because of injuries, broke loose for the second consecutive day.
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"Big hits by a lot of people," manager Joe Girardi said. "Our guys are picking up the slack."
The big inning spoiled a homecoming for 21-year-old Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello, who made his first career start at Yankee Stadium. Porcello attended Seton Hall Prep in nearby West Orange, N.J., and said he left at least 40 tickets for family and friends.
"I wish I could have done better for them," Porcello said. "It's frustrating because I felt I had good stuff today. I didn't go out there completely overmatched. I felt comfortable out there."
Miguel Cabrera hit his third homer in two games and fourth of the series for Detroit, but there was no carry-over of beanballs from a testy game the night before.
The Yankees took the final three in a four-game series with the fading Tigers, winning a series for the first time since taking three of four in Cleveland from July 26-29. New York began the day tied with Tampa Bay atop the AL East.
Cano has homered in three straight wins while batting in A-Rod's clean-up spot. He had three hits and scored three times.
"He has been tremendous," Girardi said. "He's a dangerous hitter and he had a big day again today. We've been without Alex for a few days and he's stepped up. He's stepped up all year for us."
Porcello was handed a 2-0 lead on Cabrera's first-inning homer, giving the All-Star slugger 100 RBI for the seventh consecutive season. But the right-hander, who held New York hitless for 3 1/3 innings, couldn't hold it.
The Yankees hadn't gotten a ball out of the infield before managing three straight singles in the fourth. Nick Swisher's hit on a 3-0 pitch drove in one run and former Tiger Curtis Granderson tied it with a two-out single.
That's how it stayed until the sixth, when Mark Teixeira drew a leadoff walk after falling behind 0-2 in the count and scored on Cano's double.
Swisher walked and Jorge Posada chased Porcello (5-11) with an RBI single on a 3-0 pitch for his 1,559th hit, surpassing fellow catcher Thurman Munson for 17th place on the Yankees' career list.
"I really enjoy the way he played and I really look up to him," Posada said. "It means a lot to me that I passed him today."
After another walk, Kearns greeted Robbie Weinhardt with a double to center. Granderson scored on a passed ball, Jeter tripled off the center-field fence and Cano hit his 24th homer, a drive to center that made it 11-2 and capped the scoring in a 34-minute half-inning.
"It happened pretty quick," Kearns said.
Suddenly enjoying a big cushion, Girardi took the opportunity to pull Hughes (15-5) after 84 pitches -- 61 for strikes. The right-hander retired his final 11 batters and gave up four hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked none.
Hughes was helped by two excellent defensive plays in a row in the fourth, by Teixeira at first base and Granderson in center.
"I got some early swings and some early outs," Hughes said.
"The wheels kind of fell off in the one inning a little bit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "You can't make the mistakes we're making right now."
With a runner aboard and two outs in the first, Cabrera drove a 3-2 breaking ball into the Yankees' bullpen in right-center for his 31st home run. The slugger connected twice Wednesday night, then was plunked in the back by an eighth-inning pitch from Chad Gaudin.
"That dude's good. It seems like wherever you pitch him he can leave the ballpark," Swisher said. "Glad to get him out of here."
- Tigers DH Johnny Damon received several warm hands as he wrapped up a return to Yankee Stadium. He went 2 for 13 in the series.
- Detroit finished 3-4 on a seven-game road trip.
- The Yankees put Berkman on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday, with a sprained right ankle and recalled INF Eduardo Nunez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Nunez made his major-league debut when he replaced Jeter at SS in the seventh.
- Rodriguez (strained left calf) was out of the lineup for the third straight game and remains day to day. Ramiro Pena started at 3B.