The fans at Yankee Stadium focused their catcalls on Gary Sheffield, reviled in New York for his recent comments about manager Joe Torre.
On Thursday night, Carlos Guillen did the most damage for the Tigers.
Guillen hit a first-inning grand slam off Mike Mussina, and Ivan Rodriguez also homered to help the Detroit Tigers beat the suddenly struggling Yankees 8-5.
Sheffield finished 0-for-3 with a pair of walks in his return to Yankee Stadium. The former New York slugger, traded to Detroit in the offseason, was booed before each plate appearance - hours after standing by the critical comments he recently made about Yankees manager Joe Torre.
``I noticed some cheers,'' Sheffield said. ``You have to have been a hell of a player to get a reaction like that.''
In other AL games, it was Oakland 8, Chicago 5 in 10 innings; Los Angeles 4, Toronto 3; and Kansas City 6, Texas 2.
Justin Verlander (13-4) held New York's lineup in check and the Tigers won the opener of the key four-game series to move back into first place in the AL Central, a half-game ahead of idle Cleveland.
Bobby Abreu hit a two-run homer, but the Yankees lost their third straight following a 9-1 stretch. New York fell 5 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
``I'm happy to say it seems very odd,'' New York manager Joe Torre said. ``We still have a great deal of confidence.''
The Tigers and Yankees, both in a tight race for AL playoff spots, meet seven more times in the next 11 days. This was their first matchup since Detroit's upset in the first round of the 2006 postseason.
Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge and Sean Casey each had an RBI single for Detroit, which took advantage of a crucial error by third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the first that allowed the inning to continue.
``We've got a pretty good lineup, too,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
Mussina (8-8) won his previous four starts before getting tagged for seven runs - six earned - and nine hits in five innings.
``I didn't feel comfortable out there,'' Mussina said. ``Today I didn't really know where the ball was going all that well. All the things I was doing well the last four games, I couldn't do today.''
New York did get some good news earlier in the day: Jason Giambi escaped punishment from commissioner Bud Selig because of the slugger's charitable work and cooperation with baseball's steroids investigator.
Angels 4, Blue Jays 3
At Toronto, Kelvim Escobar (13-6) shut down his former team, Gary Matthews Jr. homered and Los Angeles held on despite a rocky ninth for closer Francisco Rodriguez.
The Blue Jays scored two runs in the ninth and had a runner on first before Rodriguez got Matt Stairs to fly out to center for his 30th save in 33 opportunities.
Toronto's Dustin McGowan (8-7) allowed four runs and four hits over six-plus innings.
Athletics 8, White Sox 5, 10 innings
At Oakland, Calif., Kurt Suzuki hit a game-winning, three-run home run off Matt Thornton (3-4) and Oakland completed a three-game sweep.
Designated hitter Mike Piazza had three hits including a triple and home run for the A's, who won their fourth straight game. The White Sox lost their fifth in a row.
Ruddy Lugo (4-0) pitched a perfect 10th inning to earn the win for Oakland.
Royals 6, Rangers 2
At Arlington, Texas, Mark Teahen drove in the tiebreaking run on an eighth-inning fielder's choice off Willie Eyre (4-6), and John Buck added a three-run double as Kansas City snapped Texas' three-game winning streak.
Ryan Braun (1-0) pitched 2 2-3 innings of two-hit shutout relief for his first major league victory.
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