MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Torre's day ended better than it started.
Torre, hired by team owner George Steinbrenner after the 1995 season, joins a list that includes Joe McCarthy (1,460), Casey Stengel (1,149), Miller Huggins (1,067) and Ralph Houk (944).
"Here I am having the greatest time of my life," Torre said after the game.
A few hours earlier, he didn't sound happy after he learned Steinbrenner overrode his decision to send pitcher Jose Contreras to Triple-A Columbus and instead ordered the struggling right-hander to report to the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.
"My problem yesterday is that I sat in my room with this young man, told him where he was going," a puzzled Torre said before the game. "Turns out, I'm the liar there. That, I'm not crazy about."
But Torre felt better after watching his team dominate Minnesota, which has lost three straight and closes out its four-game homestand against the Yankees on Monday.
Mike Mussina, who improved to 20-2 against the Twins, pitched seven strong innings, and Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams each homered to lead the Yankees, whose 15-3 start is the best in team history.
Asked if the game helped take his mind off the Contreras issue, Torre nodded and said: "The game is always a priority."
Mussina (4-0) allowed five hits while the Yankees got a three-run homer in the first inning from Giambi and a solo shot in the third from Williams. Giambi's homer was his first since the opening week of the season.
"That was huge for him," Torre said. "He's been pretty dry, and I know it's been bothering him. I know it was important for him."
Giambi's shot came after Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson opened the games with singles off Kyle Lohse. Giambi, hitless in 11 at-bats and in a 2-for-21 slide, hit a 3-1 pitch for his fourth homer, his first since April 4 at Tampa Bay.
"With Torii (Hunter) out there, I wanted to make sure I hit it out of his reach," Giambi said of the Twins' All-Star center fielder.
Overall, Giambi swung the bat well. He hit a hard line drive in the third inning that would've been a hit had it not been for slick-fielding first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz.
"I worked on cleaning up my bat path through the strike zone, and I started to hit the ball better," Giambi said. "The guys around me have been swinging the bat well, so it feels good for me to get going a little bit too."
Williams, who homered in Saturday night's 4-2 win, had a ground-rule double in a three-run fifth inning. Hideki Matsui entered as a pinch runner in the sixth and added an RBI ground-rule double in the seventh that made it 8-1.
Lohse (2-2) lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs and 10 hits.
"The were all over my hard stuff early in the count," Lohse said. "They're a good-hitting team and they showed it again today."
Mussina struck out eight -- including Jacque Jones three times and Hunter twice -- and improved to 4-0 for the second time in his career. He was in trouble only once, when the Twins loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth.
A.J. Pierzynski hit a two-out, bases-loaded single that scored Chris Gomez. But Pierzynski overran first base and got caught between Giambi and Soriano. Corey Koskie tried score from third, but Jorge Posada tagged him out at the plate to end Minnesota's threat.
"We know we can play with these guys, and we know we can beat these guys," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Joe Brinkman. "We just haven't done it on the field yet. But it's April, there's still a lot of baseball to play."
Pierzynski scored on Mussina's wild pitch in the seventh to make it 8-2.
New York's starting pitchers are 13-0, the longest winning streak to begin a major league season since 1900.
"We're just all clicking right," Mussina said. "You don't question it, you don't say anything too much about it. You go out and go after it and try to keep it going."
Williams added his solo shot with two outs in the third to make it 4-0, and Posada singled off Johan Santana in the fifth to score Johnson and Williams.
- Matsui, who had started the Yankees' previous 17 games, has played in 1,268 straight games spanning his days with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League.
- Mussina started 4-0 in 1992 with Baltimore.
- The Twins activated RHP Mike Fetters from the DL and optioned RHP Juan Rincon to Triple-A Rochester. Fetters worked one inning, allowing one hit.
The Associated Press News Service
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