MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Liam Hendriks got that first win out of the way in his last start. Now he has to work on keeping the ball in the park.
Andy Pettitte turned in another ageless performance by pitching six scoreless innings and the New York Yankees hit four home runs Monday night to beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 and extend their AL East lead.
The Yankees took a 1 1/2-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. The Twins lost their 90th game.
"The box score doesn't give me credit for how well I went through parts of their lineup. I think I really did well against some of their guys and kept them in check. It was just the bottom third of the order killed me," said Hendriks, who has given up 17 home runs in 78 1-3 innings this season.
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.
"To come back and throw shutout ball for us, I can't ask for much more than that," Pettitte said.
Nick Swisher's two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off Hendriks (1-8) 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.