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New York at Minnesota

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N.Y. Yankees (89-64) «3001002006100
Minnesota (64-90)0000000123100

Pettitte, four homer runs pace Yankees

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Andy Pettitte shrugged off another ageless performance by claiming he's still not as sharp as he wants to be.

The New York Yankees are plenty pleased by the way he's been pitching.

Pettitte threw six scoreless innings and the Yankees hit four home runs Monday to beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 and extend their AL East lead.

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"I'm happy to get through it, happy to give us a good start," Pettitte said, adding: "It's just there's definitely some room for me to improve.

The Yankees took a 1 ½-game edge over Baltimore, which split a doubleheader with Toronto. This is the first time since Sept. 2 their margin has been more than one game. According to STATS research, the 21-day stretch during which the Yankees and Orioles were separated by one game or less was the second-longest in Major League Baseball history, the most days since 1897.

"Right now I feel like everything is kind of rolling for us. It's real calm in here. It's relaxed. Guys are having a ton of fun," said Nick Swisher, who was the first to take Liam Hendriks (1-8) deep.

After playing three tense, one-run games against Oakland during the weekend, including their startling comeback for a 14-inning win on Saturday, the Yankees enjoyed an easy one for a change. This was New York's 10th victory in 12 games.

Pettitte (5-3) hasn't given up a run in 11 innings since rejoining the rotation last week. The 40-year-old threw five scoreless innings against Toronto to mark his comeback from a broken lower left leg that kept him out for almost three months.

His successful unretirement, after supposedly ending his remarkable career in 2010, has been a big help for the banged-up Yankees even though this was only his 11th start of the season.

Swisher's two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off Hendriks sailed into the seats above right-center field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Curtis Granderson's solo shot in the fourth went even higher and farther, landing in the second deck. Granderson became the fourth player in the majors to hit 40 homers this season.

In the bottom of that inning, Granderson made a postseason-worthy throw from center field after fielding a two-out single as Ryan Doumit raced from second base to home. The ball arrived just in time, and catcher Russell Martin made a quick sweep tag that grazed Doumit's shoulder a spilt-second before his hand touched the plate.

Then in the seventh, Raul Ibanez -- who is 7 for 12 with three homers in his last three games -- went deep with a drive that reached the standing room space near the gate beyond right field. Eric Chavez added one more home run against Hendriks, an opposite-field liner with one out that barely reached the flower bed in left.

"It's a good lineup. There's no breaks in it. There's no breathers," said Hendriks, who recorded his first major league win last week at Cleveland after 17 starts without one. He gave up eight hits, six runs and one walk, striking out four over 6 1/3 innings.

Those career statistics for Hendriks are a stark contrast to Pettitte, who stretched his unbeaten streak against the Twins to 12 straight starts. That dates to May 2001 and includes division series victories in 2009 and 2010.

The Yankees have had him on a pitch count in his return to help him regain strength in his legs, but he threw 88 times without any trouble. Pettitte gave up seven hits and one walk. He struck out three.

"I love this guy. There's nothing that fazes him," Swisher said, adding: "You can only just look at that and be like, `Man, I want to be like that."'

The Yankees, who've been alone in or tied for first place since June 11, started a favorable final stretch of the season, with Minnesota, Toronto and Boston left on the schedule, owners of three of the four worst records in the league. The Orioles also finish with the Blue Jays and Red Sox but must wrap up with a three-game series at Tampa Bay. The Rays still have an outside chance in the wild card chase.

So now the Yankees have what seems like a large 1 ½-game cushion, considering how close the race has been.

"I wouldn't say that," manager Joe Girardi said. "Any time you can make it bigger than it's been, it's nice."

Notes

  • Derek Jeter extended his season-high hitting to streak to 18 straight games with a ninth-inning single for the Yankees against Matt Capps, the former closer who pitched for the first time since July 16 due to a shoulder problem.
  • Yankees RH reliever David Aardsma, whose recovery from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery last July is complete, joined the team at Target Field and took injured RH Michael Pineda's uniform No. 35. Aardsma could be activated from the DL this series, but Girardi said he'd have to "pick some spots" since the 30-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors in two years.
  • Girardi said 1B Mark Teixeira, out with a strained left calf for all but one game since Aug. 27, ran the bases and took ground balls and batting practice at the team's minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., and fared well. Girardi stopped short of confirming Teixeira would return this week at Toronto, however. "The concern is that you rush him and then he has that one play and then you know that he's probably done for the season. So you've got to be sure," the manager said.
  • Twins LF Josh Willingham left the game with a strained left shoulder, trying to catch Chavez's homer.
  • Pedro Florimon hit his first career home run for the Twins in the eighth against Cory Wade.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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The Yankees' Andy Pettitte throws six shutout innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 11 since his return. (AP)
The Yankees' Andy Pettitte throws six shutout innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 11 since his return. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

P. Florimon
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
New York

E. Chavez
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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New York Yankees
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Derek Jeter, SS3110211 .322
Ichiro Suzuki, RF5110002 .282
Alex Rodriguez, DH5010005 .274
Robinson Cano, 2B4001001 .293
Nick Swisher, 1B4112011 .262
Curtis Granderson, CF3111111 .231
Raul Ibanez, LF4121011 .234
    Chris Dickerson, LF0000000 .250
Russell Martin, C4000001 .203
Eric Chavez, 3B4131010 .285
Totals36610635  
Batting
2B - Ichiro Suzuki (26, Hendriks)
HR - Nick Swisher (23, Hendriks), Curtis Granderson (40, Hendriks), Raul Ibanez (18, Hendriks), Eric Chavez (14, Hendriks)
RBI - Robinson Cano (80), Nick Swisher 2 (87), Curtis Granderson (95), Raul Ibanez (58), Eric Chavez (34)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Swisher 2 (29)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Curtis Granderson 1
DP - Jeter-Cano-Swisher, Cano-Jeter-Swisher
New York Yankees
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Andy Pettitte (W,5-3) 6700130 2.71
Joba Chamberlain 1000000 4.91
Cory Wade 0.2111001 6.46
Justin Thomas 0.2122110 8.22
David Robertson 0.2100010 2.84
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 88-53, Joba Chamberlain 11-8, Cory Wade 12-8, Justin Thomas 20-12, David Robertson 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 6-6, Joba Chamberlain 3-0, Cory Wade 1-1, Justin Thomas 1-0, David Robertson 1-0
Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 23, Joba Chamberlain 3, Cory Wade 3, Justin Thomas 4, David Robertson 3
Minnesota Twins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF4020001 .289
Ben Revere, RF4010001 .292
Joe Mauer, 1B4010012 .322
Josh Willingham, LF2000111 .260
    Chris Herrmann, LF1000000 .000
Justin Morneau, DH4110013 .276
Ryan Doumit, C3110103 .274
Trevor Plouffe, 3B4000023 .231
Jamey Carroll, 2B3010001 .263
   a- Chris Parmelee, PH1012000 .242
Pedro Florimon, SS4121001 .248
Totals34310325  
a-tripled for Carroll in the 9th
Batting
2B - Ryan Doumit (33, Pettitte)
3B - Chris Parmelee (2, Robertson)
HR - Pedro Florimon (1, Wade)
RBI - Chris Parmelee 2 (19), Pedro Florimon (8)
2-OUT RBI - Chris Parmelee 2 (11)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Carroll-Florimon-Mauer
Minnesota Twins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Liam Hendriks (L,1-8) 6.1866144 6.09
Luis Perdomo 0.2000100 4.05
Tyler Robertson 1000110 5.40
Matt Capps 1200000 3.68
Pitches-Strikes - Liam Hendriks 92-65, Luis Perdomo 12-6, Tyler Robertson 23-13, Matt Capps 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Liam Hendriks 4-10, Luis Perdomo 1-1, Matt Capps 2-1
Batters Faced - Liam Hendriks 27, Luis Perdomo 3, Tyler Robertson 4, Matt Capps 5
Game Information
Attendance - 33720
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Paul Nauert, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Doug Eddings, Third Base - Kerwin Danley