Twins lose to Yankees despite milestone homer from Hunter

The Minnesota Twins' Torii Hunter hits a three-run home run off New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia during the third inning.

Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Hitting his spots on the way to a perfect 28 of 28 in save opportunities in the season’s first half, Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins knew his record wouldn’t remain unblemished.

Missing his spots against the New York Yankees led to Perkins’ second blown save in three chances since he was the final pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game.

Alex Rodriguez hit the first pitch he saw from Perkins for his third home run of the game to lead off the ninth and John Ryan Murphy added a three-run homer as New York rallied for an 8-5 victory over Minnesota.

"I’m not going to be able to go out there and hit every spot like I have," Perkins said. "I felt like I hit almost every spot for the first half of the season or whatever.  . . . It’s magnified. But I miss spots, everybody misses spots and I’ll learn from that."

Rodriguez homered three times in a game for the fifth time in his career, helping the Yankees overcome an early 5-0 deficit. He is 6 for 10 lifetime against Perkins with two home runs.

Perkins (0-2) allowed four runs and five hits and managed to retire just two hitters. Perkins had given up six runs in 40 previous appearances.

"I threw everything in the wrong spot tonight. I like to work my fastball up," Perkins said. "They know it’s going to be inside. They know what I’m trying to do. It’s still really hard to hit if I locate it."

Torii Hunter hit his 208th career home run with the Twins, passing his mentor Kirby Puckett for sixth in team history and giving Minnesota a 5-0 lead in the third. Aaron Hicks homered to give the Twins a 2-0 lead off CC Sabathia in the first.

"That’s why you have to try to keep adding on because a team that can hit the ball over the fence like they can, you got to keep the pressure on them, and we didn’t do that tonight," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

Adam Warren (6-5) pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief of Sabathia. Andrew Miller worked the ninth for his 23rd save.

Warren struck out Hicks with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth on a check swing, prompting Molitor to protest from the dugout and get ejected by plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

"I don’t think it was something that he probably had a very good clear look at, not if he’s concentrating on the pitch," Molitor said. "But he thought he saw enough to call the swing and I just voiced my opinion that I thought it was too close for him to make that call. That’s why they have the appeal process and it kind of spiraled down from there."

Less than 30 minutes after Hunter hit the home run to pass his father on the Twins’ all-time list, Kirby Puckett Jr., visited the press box to talk about the milestone.

"Seeing that my dad mentored him, it really is pretty cool to have him be the one because he used to take me under his wing when my dad was, when I was going through a lot," Puckett Jr. said. "So, having him pass it, I wouldn’t rather have anybody else do it besides Torii."

Twins: Minnesota hopes injured CF Byron Buxton (thumb) can start taking batting practice late next week. From there, GM Terry Ryan said Buxton will head to Florida to continue rehabbing before going out on an official rehab assignment in the minors.

Kyle Gibson (8-7, 3.19 ERA) will try to lower his career 10.95 ERA against the Yankees in Sunday’s series finale. The Yankees will start Nathan Eovaldi (9-2, 4.43), who is 4-0 with a 2.97 ERA in his last six starts.