Rick Porcello had a long and successful outing to set up a victory.
Porcello pitched seven sharp innings and Magglio Ordonez drove in one of two runs in the sixth, leading Detroit to a 2-0 win over the Yankees in the opener of a doubleheader.
"It was perfect for us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "This sets us up OK for the second game."
The Yankees lost their season-high third in a row.
Porcello (3-3) had his best start of the season, giving up four hits.
"It was a big confidence-booster for me and our team needed this to help out the bullpen," Porcello said.
A few hours before the day game, Leyland lamented how much short starts have forced him to rely on relievers more than he'd like.
"Our bullpen will be at the Detroit Medical Center by June if this doesn't change," he said.
Porcello shut down the Yankees with a wicked slider after allowing 22 runs his previous four outings.
"It was more frustrating than anything," Porcello said. "The first couple starts were not good. Then I was better, but I wasn't getting better results."
New York had a chance to make things interesting in the final inning when Jorge Posada drew a two-out walk, but Valverde ended the game by striking out Nick Swisher and celebrating with a pulsating squat on the mound.
Johnny Damon got a hit as Detroit took a 2-0 lead in the sixth.
Javier Vazquez (1-4) allowed only an infield hit through the first five innings and struck out a season-high seven in seven innings.
"I was throwing strikes and staying aggressive," Vazquez said. "We lost the game, but it was a big step forward for me.
He responded well to getting extra time to make some adjustments after giving up three homers -- matching a career high -- in a three-inning start May 1 in what was his shortest healthy outing since 2005.
Vazquez ended the first three innings with strikeouts and was cruising until Austin Jackson and Damon led off the sixth with singles. Ordonez followed with an RBI groundout, Miguel Cabrera singled and Ordonez scored on Brennan Boesch's single.
"Javy pitched a good game, but we didn't get anything done to help him," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "I was very pleased with the way he threw the ball. Any time you go seven innings and give up two runs, you've got a chance. They just outpitched us."
Porcello got out of jams in the second and fourth innings -- stranding five of the seven runners the Yankees left on base.
"Baseball is a strange game," Leyland said. "We go into the game with two pitchers that are struggling and both them looked like they've been pitching great all year."
Jeter has been great throughout much of his career but was hitless for the second straight game in Detroit and fell to 2-for-21 on the road trip.
"I'm not walking around thinking that I'm in a slump because I know I'm hitting the ball hard," Jeter said. "As long as I'm doing that, the hits will come."
Girardi joked he got Yogi Berra a doubleheader for his 85th birthday on Wednesday, letting the Hall of Fame catcher watch his favorite team before and after dinner with his grandkids. ... The Yankees put right-hander Alfredo Aceves on the DL with a back injury and put outfielder Greg Golson on the roster. ... Detroit recalled right-hander Alfredo Figaro and sent outfielder Ryan Raburn to Triple-A Toledo. ... Yankees right-hander Chan Ho Park, on the DL with a strained right hamstring, struck out three and gave up one hit in a scoreless inning Wednesday in an extending spring training game. ... Porcello stayed in the game after Swisher hit the back of his right shoulder with a comebacker in the seventh inning. ... Jackson, who New York dealt to Detroit in the Curtis Granderson deal, became the first player in the majors with 50 hits this season. ... Cabrera has a 10-game hitting streak.