If George Steinbrenner was upset before, he's REALLY going to be angry now.
Lew Ford homered, tripled and drove in three runs to lead Minnesota to a 6-3 victory over the slumping Yankees on Friday night.
"We're frustrated, disappointed," Yankees starter Mike Mussina said. "We certainly aren't proud of the way we're playing."
Neither is Steinbrenner, who held a conference call Friday afternoon with manager Joe Torre and GM Brian Cashman to get some answers after watching his team get swept by the Kansas City Royals, the worst team in the major leagues.
An upset Steinbrenner made it clear that the team's struggles are unacceptable.
"He wants to see improvement yesterday," Torre said. "And so do we all."
That will have to wait at least another day because the Yankees (27-27) squandered a 3-0 lead for their first six-game skid since dropping seven straight in September and October 2000. They have scored three runs or fewer in every game of the losing streak and are 0-19 this year when doing so.
The Twins lost three starters to injury in their 13-inning victory over Cleveland on Thursday. Nick Punto blew out his hamstring and is on the disabled list, Justin Morneau strained his left elbow and Joe Mauer pulled a groin muscle.
Even without heavy hitters Mauer and Morneau in the starting lineup, the Twins roughed up Mussina (5-4) with two home runs and eight hits to win their third in a row and sixth in their last eight.
"You can't cry about it," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's just a matter of picking each other up. That's what baseball's all about."
Lohse gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings with two strikeouts for his first career win against the Yankees. Jesse Crain and Juan Rincon each pitched an inning of perfect relief before Joe Nathan got three outs for his 16th save in 18 chances.
"It just shows our scrappiness or heart, or whatever you want to call it," Lohse said.
New York got on the board when Gary Sheffield hit a two-run homer in the first. It was Sheffield's 425th home run, tying him with Jim Thome for 35th on the career list.
Bernie Williams' RBI single in the third made it 3-0.
"We got a lead and he pitched very effectively early," Torre said of Mussina. "And then it just fell apart for us, basically. There's not much more you can say, other than he didn't make his pitches."
Mussina was coming off his worst start of the season, when he gave up five runs and seven hits in three innings of a loss to Boston on May 29.
Mussina has tormented the Twins for most of his career, entering the night with a 20-3 record against them. He looked to be on his way to another dominant night when he retired eight of his first 10 batters, but he ran into trouble in the fourth.
The Twins started the inning with four straight hits, including Abernathy's leadoff shot. Ford followed with a triple and scored on a single by Torii Hunter to make it 3-2.
The Twins used a two-out rally in the fifth to take the lead. Shannon Stewart doubled down the left-field line and Abernathy drew his second walk before Ford hit a three-run homer.
The ball traveled an estimated 402 feet, landing deep in the left-field stands to give the Twins a 5-3 lead as the near-capacity crowd bellowed, "LEWWWWW!"
"It started out pretty good," Torre said. "Moose looked comfortable, and then the home run to Abernathy, and then he walked Abernathy, and it sort of spelled doom at that time."
The Twins took advantage of a fielding miscue to add some insurance in the seventh. Mike Redmond led off with a double and advanced to third when Juan Castro laid down a bunt. Mussina fielded the ball and looked to third, but Alex Rodriguez was not covering the bag. Mussina then whirled and rushed a throw that pulled Tino Martinez off the bag at first, allowing Castro to reach safely on the error.
Redmond scored on a sacrifice fly by Stewart off Tanyon Sturtze for a 6-3 lead.
Hideki Matsui went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run for the Yankees, who had just two hits after the third inning.
"That's the problem we've been having," Torre said. "When we get behind, we try to play catch-up. We're not very patient."
- Rodriguez broke an 0-for-13 slump with a single past third baseman Michael Cuddyer in the first.
- Rodriguez just missed career homer No. 399 in the fifth when Stewart jumped and grabbed his fly ball just before it reached the seats in left.
- Two of Matsui's three hits were thanks to misplays by Twins outfielders. His double in the second glanced off Jacque Jones' glove and should have been caught. He doubled again in the fifth on a ball that Hunter lost in the lights.
- Abernathy's homer was his first since May 6, 2002, against Boston, and the eighth of his four-year career that included spot duty with Tampa Bay.