NEW YORK – The Detroit Tigers survived a tense trip back to the Bronx, with Jose Valverde and the bullpen holding on time and time again to beat the New York Yankees 3-2 to win the deciding Game 5 of their AL playoff series Thursday night.

Don Kelly and Delmon Young hit consecutive home runs in the first inning, then Doug Fister and the Tigers spent the rest of a thrilling game trying to preserve their lead.

They did — barely — and advanced to the AL championship series against Texas.

Joaquin Benoit followed Max Scherzer in the seventh and walked Mark Teixeira with the bases loaded, pulling the Yankees within a run. Benoit struck out Nick Swisher with a 95-mph fastball to keep the lead.

After Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the eighth, Derek Jeter flied out to Kelly just in front of the right-field wall.

Valverde pitched the ninth for his second save of the series, remaining perfect in 51 chances this year. After Valverde struck out Alex Rodriguez to end it, the Tigers’ closer crouched and pumped both arms as his teammates ran out to celebrate.

Detroit won its first all-or-nothing postseason game since beating St. Louis in Game 7 of the 1968 World Series.

With the Tigers vying for their first World Series title since 1984, ace Justin Verlander will start the ALCS opener Saturday night at Texas against C.J. Wilson.

Before a new Yankee Stadium record crowd of 50,960, New York had its chances but went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and 0 for 4 with the bases loaded. The Yankees stranded 10 runners.

While the Yankees led the AL with 97 wins in the regular season, the early exit in the first round and second straight season without a World Series title will set off a restless offseason search for more starting pitching and offense.

Rodriguez was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and hit .118 in the series (2 for 18) and Teixeira batted .167 (3 for 18). Robinson Cano, whose fifth-inning solo homer started the comeback attempt, was the Yankees’ primary offense with nine RBI.

Kelly and Young homered on the sixth and seventh pitches from Ivan Nova, the Game 1 winner who led rookies with 16 wins in the regular season. They were the first back-to-back postseason homers in Tigers history, and it was the third homer of the series for Young, who was acquired Aug. 15 from Minnesota. Kelly was a surprise starter at third to some.

Young, the first Tigers player with three homers in a postseason series, left in the seventh because of a mild left oblique strain and will be re-evaluated today.

After pitching scoreless ball into the ninth inning in winning the resumption of the opener, Nova (1-1) lasted 31 pitches and six outs, with the Yankees saying he came out due to tightness in his right forearm.

Hughes started warming up after Nova’s sixth batter, Magglio Ordonez, doubled leading off the second. Ordonez advanced on Alex Avila’s groundout, but Nova worked out of trouble when Jhonny Peralta hit a one-hopper to third baseman Rodriguez with the infield in and Ramon Santiago struck out.

When Hughes replaced Nova to start the third, Miguel Cabrera held up his hands as if he were saying, “What’s this?”

It was just the start of the procession from the Yankees’ bullpen to the mound.

Hughes was pulled after his 21st pitch. Boone Logan lasted just seven pitches and two outs.

That was followed by the odd sight of the 290-pound CC Sabathia jogging in from the Yankees’ bullpen.

Detroit immediately tacked on a run for a 3-0 lead.