"It's good because we haven't been winning series," manager Joe Girardi said. "In our division, you need to win series. After losing the first one in kind of a heartbreaker, it was really good to see."
The Yankees hadn't won a series since they were in Cleveland the week before the Trade Deadline, losing two and splitting three others since then.
New York secured the victory largely because of that eventful bottom of the sixth, which began with the score deadlocked at two. After falling behind, 0-2, Mark Teixeira worked out a leadoff walk against Detroit starter Rick Porcello, who slumped his shoulders immediately following ball four.
"For me, the biggest at-bat of the game was the walk to Teixeira," Porcello said. "Get him down, 0-2, and get him out, and it's a different game for sure. Especially with the depth of their lineup and the guys they've got hitting behind him, you can't put a guy like that on to lead off an inning."
Robinson Cano followed with an RBI double to break the tie, coming around to score two batters later when Jorge Posada lined a single to right on a 3-0 count.
It was the second time in the game the Yankees had driven in a run with a 3-0 single (Nick Swisher singled home Teixeira in the fourth), and the hit was the 1,559th of Posada's career, pushing him past Thurman Munson on the Yankees' all-time list.
"I really enjoyed the way he played and I really look up to him," Posada said of Munson, the catching icon he honors with a picture in his locker. "It means a lot to me."
That was it for Porcello, who finished having given up six runs on six hits in five-plus innings.
"Overall, with the exception of those couple pitches, it wasn't bad," Porcello said. "It's just with a team like this, your mistakes get magnified times 10. They've got so much depth."
The Bombers displayed that depth later in the inning against the Tigers' bullpen. Against a trio of relievers, Austin Kearns smashed a two-run double, Derek Jeter a two-run triple and Cano a two-run homer to break the game open.
"We got to string together some at-bats," said Kearns, who also laced a two-run double in Wednesday night's win. "It happened pretty quickly. It's just what [this offense] is capable of."
The nine runs the Bombers posted in the frame were their most in an inning since they scored 11 in the third inning against the Blue Jays on July 3.
"Big hits by a lot of people," Girardi said. "Everyone's contributing. Our guys are picking up the slack."
The offensive fireworks took some of the spotlight off Phil Hughes, who was terrific after surrendering a two-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning -- a result the rest of the Yankees' staff can sympathize with. Cabrera went the other way on a 3-2 curveball for his fourth long ball of this four-game set.
"It seems like Cabrera and home runs go hand-in-hand right now," Girardi said.
Hughes allowed one hit in each the second and third before retiring the last 11 Tigers he faced. He held Detroit to the two runs on four hits in six innings, and was poised to pitch the seventh before the nine-run lead gave the Yankees the opportunity to limit his innings count.
"It was a long inning and we thought it was time to get him out," Girardi said.
Hughes used a lively fastball up in the zone to generate swings and misses throughout the afternoon, striking out six and walking none en route to his 15th victory of the season. Three out of every four of his pitches went for strikes.
"I was aggressive with [the fastball], trying to stay in the strike zone and get ahead in the count," Hughes said. "Besides the home run, I felt today was a good outing."
Hughes was aided by a pair of fantastic defensive plays in the fourth inning. Teixeira made a bobbling over-the-shoulder catch of a shallow popup by Johnny Damon in foul ground leading off the inning, and Curtis Granderson tracked down Jhonny Peralta's drive to the warning track in left-center one pitch later. Granderson also managed to avoid a potential collision with Brett Gardner, who had the ball tick off his glove, while still making the grab.
"Our defense was tremendous again," Girardi said.