Lou Whitaker's two-run homer triggered a four-run sixth inning and the Tigers went on to a 6-4 victory over the New York Yankees last night in Detroit.

Kirk Gibson homered in the seventh inning and Darrell Evans homered in the eighth as the Tigers extended their winning streak to four with their 10th victory in the last 12 games.

Rickey Henderson, leading the American League with a .357 average, led off the game with a homer for the Yankees and hit another bases-empty homer in the eighth. Henderson also hit a drive off the top of the fence in right-center field in the third that only went for an RBI single when the runners on base had to wait to see if the ball would be caught.

"It only comes around once or twice a season where you hit like this," said Henderson, who is 15 for 20 in his last five games. "You have to make the most of it. It would have meant more, though, if we had won the game tonight."

"Henderson's hot," Yankees Manager Billy Martin said. "Henderson's an outstanding player. That All-Star vote (where Henderson is seventh among AL outfielders in the fan balloting) has to be a joke, an out-and-out joke."

Randy O'Neal (2-1) went 7 1/3 innings for the victory. Willie Hernandez earned his 14th save. Loser Phil Niekro (7-6) allowed seven hits but was hurt by four walks, three in the crucial sixth.

With Detroit trailing by 3-0, Tom Brookens led off the sixth with a double and scored on Whitaker's 12th homer of the season. Alan Trammell singled, and two outs later, Niekro walked Evans and Barbaro Garbey to load the bases. Larry Herndon s191