Yankees hold off Twins in series finale
Derek Jeter passed Rogers Hornsby for 33rd place on baseball's all-time list with two hits, and the New York Yankees' relievers held off the Minnesota Twins in their first game since blowing a big lead to win 4-3 on Thursday.
A.J. Burnett (2-0) improved to 7-0 in 12 April starts for the Yankees, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings. With the Yankees up 4-3, Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless eighth two days after he surrendered a 4-0 lead in a game Minnesota won in extra innings.
The Twins lost heralded Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka to an apparent left leg injury when Nick Swisher slid into him at second base while breaking up a double play. Nishioka had to be helped off the field, barely putting weight on the leg, in the seventh inning. Swisher slid well to the left of the bag as Nishioka tried to turn the double play.
The Twins signed Nishioka to a three-year, $9.25 million deal in December. He was 0 for 4 with a strikeout Thursday to drop his average to .208.
No. 9 hitter Brett Gardner helped the Yankees manufacture their first run in the third, then drove in their final run in the fourth.
New York won two out of three in the rain-shortened series. After Wednesday's rainout, manager Joe Girardi immediately gave Soriano another chance in his eighth-inning slot. Soriano allowed a leadoff single to Joe Mauer, then retired the Twins' 4-5-6 hitters to get the ball to Mariano Rivera. Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
Gardner led off the bottom of the third with a walk. He stole second, then moved to third on a groundout by Jeter. Swisher drove him in with a sacrifice fly to deep right-center, and New York had a 1-0 lead without a hit in the inning.
The Twins erased the deficit minutes later when Justin Morneau and Jim Thome led off the top of the fourth with back-to-back doubles. Thome was a few feet from career home run No. 590 - and his first of this season - on a drive to straightaway center that was carried by the wind on a chilly afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Minnesota took the lead two batters later when Gold Glover Mark Teixeira couldn't knock down Jason Kubel's sizzling ground ball down the first base line. The Twins' third double of the inning put them up 2-1.
But Francisco Liriano (0-2) walked Alex Rodriguez to open the bottom of the fourth. After Robinson Cano singled, Andruw Jones drove in the tying run with a one-out double. The Yankees went back on top when Russell Martin's grounder to first scored Cano. Gardner's bloop single to right with two outs put New York up 4-2.
Liriano allowed four runs on four hits and three walks in five innings, striking out five.
Joba Chamberlain took over for the Yankees in the seventh. With one out, Alexi Casilla squared to bunt and had to leap out of the way of an inside pitch, and home plate umpire Larry Vanover ruled the ball grazed him. Casilla stole second, and Martin's throw ricocheted off him and into the outfield, allowing Casilla to advance to third with one out.
Denard Span's groundout to first drove in Casilla to pull the Twins within 4-3.
NOTES: Jeter went 2 for 3 to reach 2,931 hits, passing Hall of Famers Hornsby and Jake Beckley. ... Martin went tumbling head first over the barrier into the Twins dugout chasing a popup by Kubel in the second inning. Minnesota pitching coach Rick Anderson and bench coach Scott Ullger caught him before he hit the floor. ... Yankees RHP Kevin Millwood allowed two hits over five scoreless innings in an extended spring training intrasquad game. He struck out three and walked one in his second minor league appearance since being signed by New York late last month. ... Jones made a sliding catch on Thome's popup down the left field line in the sixth, then in the same motion flipped the ball to Jeter, who was also chasing the play - drawing a smile from Burnett.