NEW YORK -- Just as good at-bats can feel contagious throughout a lineup, there is truth to the idea that pitchers feed off one another, trying to out-do the guy who started before you. At least, that's how Shane Greene sees it, and it's difficult to argue his point.
In a series that featured three former Cy Young Award winners and the current American League wins leader on the mound, Greene turned in the best outing of the week, hurling eight-plus scoreless innings and leading the Yankees to a 1-0 victory over the Tigers on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
"It's awesome. They gave me an opportunity and I'm just trying to make the most of it," said Greene, a 25-year-old rookie who logged his third Major League win. "You start to get on a roll and it's kind of like hitting. Hopefully we can keep going."
The victory concluded a gauntlet of a week in which Brandon McCarthy outdueled Max Scherzer on Monday and Hiroki Kuroda battled David Price in his Detroit debut before the Yanks fell in extra innings. Chris Capuano beat Justin Verlander on Wednesday, setting up Greene's longest big league outing in the finale.
"That's probably the best four starts we've had in a row all year long," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They knew who we were facing, and they weren't the guys who were being talked about. But they went out and did the job; that's what's really impressive to me."
Having held Detroit to four hits through eight innings, Greene surrendered a leadoff single to Ian Kinsler in the ninth before David Robertson slammed the door for his 31st save, inducing pinch-hitter Miguel Cabrera to hit into a double play and retiring Don Kelly on a soft lineout.
"This is the game of baseball -- you can win against anybody at any given time," Robertson said. "They have great pitchers. We just happened to get them at a bad time and took three games from them. We scored just enough."
New York produced the only run of the game off Rick Porcello in the fourth inning. Carlos Beltran stroked a two-out single, moved to third on a Chase Headley hit and scored as Stephen Drew lifted a ground-rule double down the left-field line.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game with these two pitchers coming in," Drew said. "Good defense and timely hitting worked out."
Porcello continued as his usual tough customer from there, scattering nine hits over seven innings, but Greene made the run hold up in yet another tight game -- a trademark of this year's club. Of the Yanks' last 18 games, 17 have been decided by two or fewer runs, with New York winning 10 of those contests.
"Since I've been here, I don't think there's been a game that's been out of hand," Headley said. "Every game has been tight. Guys understand how to perform in those situations here, and that's what it's going to be like the rest of the year and hopefully into the postseason."
Girardi said that Greene's slider and sinker were his best weapons on Thursday, as he struck out five and issued three walks. Greene worked out of his tightest jam in the sixth, inducing Victor Martinez to hit into a double play to recover from an infield single and a bloop hit to right field.
"I knew if I just made my pitch and located it down and away, I'd get a good result," Greene said.
Greene walked off the field after eight innings thinking his afternoon might be done. To be safe, he stayed quiet in the dugout, hoping Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild kept their distance.
"You hope nobody walks up to you," Greene said.
They didn't, but Kinsler ripped a single to center on Greene's first pitch in the ninth, drawing Girardi out. Robertson issued a walk upon entering, prompting Tigers manager Brad Ausmus to send up Cabrera -- who had been given a scheduled day off -- as a pinch-hitter.
"That's not a great feeling, with that guy up there," Girardi said. "He's an RBI machine."
Robertson won the showdown, rearing back and getting Cabrera to roll to second baseman Brendan Ryan for the twin killing. Robertson acknowledged later that he might have gotten lucky on a pitch that caught a little too much of the plate.
"I really just cut one loose, like I'm going to throw it as hard as I can and hope he hits a ground ball, not put it in the seats," Robertson said. "He just didn't catch it right on the barrel. It turned out to be a nice ground ball for a double play."
The win moved the Yankees six games over .500, their high water mark of the season. They are 13-7 since the All-Star break, and Robertson sees no reason that the wins won't continue to pile up.
"I think we're a better team now," Robertson said. "We just need to get on a run and start winning games against AL East opponents. That's going to be our biggest key."