The Yankees sought to build on a spirited victory when they stopped the American League’s hottest team on Friday night. They handed the task to Phil Hughes.

“I always say momentum in baseball is the next day’s pitcher and today [Anibal] Sanchez pitched better than Hughes” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

In truth Leyland might have pitched better than Hughes whose nightmare season continued Saturday as his pitch count rose higher than a Yankees fan’s blood pressure. Hughes never saw the end of the fifth inning and the Yankees’ bid for momentum evaporated into a 9-3 dismantling by Detroit.

“It’s tough to go through times like this” said Hughes (4-11) who lost for the ninth time in 11 decisions since May 15. “It’s been a grind. It’s something that’s tough to live with every day. I’m working as hard as I can to figure something out.”

The Tigers figured out Hughes early — two batters in it was 1-0. In 4 1/3 innings they raked him for seven hits — including solo homers by Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera — and four earned runs. Hughes threw 99 pitches having passed 50 in the second inning.

“I felt like I had good stuff but it was never easy” Hughes said.

“Just got myself into a lot of long counts today. Really the one pitch I’d like to have back was hanging a slider to Jackson. Cabrera’s fastball was a foot inside that he hit out so that one you kind of tip your cap on but the long counts drawn out at-bats ... that was kind of my day.”