Minneapolis, MN – Andy Pettitte's six scoreless innings were backed by four home runs as the New York Yankees downed the Minnesota Twins, 6-3, in the opener of a three-game set at Target Field.
Pettitte (5-3) scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out three to win his 10th straight decision -- including playoffs -- against Minnesota. He has not lost to the club since April 30, 2001.
"I still feel like I'm struggling with a little bit of stuff, but it was a good outing," Pettitte said. "Obviously if you can go out there and throw six scoreless that's good."
Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez each went deep for the Yankees, who increased their lead over Baltimore for the top spot in the AL East to 1 1/2 games after the Orioles split a doubleheader with Toronto on Monday.
Liam Hendriks (1-8) surrendered six runs on eight hits and a walk through 6 1/3 innings for Minnesota, which had its two-game win streak snapped.
The Yankees jumped out to a quick lead in their first at-bat as Derek Jeter led off the game with a walk, advanced to third on an Ichiro Suzuki double and came home on Robinson Cano's groundout to short.
Swisher then hammered a ball over the right-field wall for a three-run advantage.
Minnesota had a chance to answer in the bottom of the first after loading the bases with one out on singles by Denard Span and Ben Revere, and a walk by Josh Willingham.
But Pettitte caught Justin Morneau looking at a called third strike before Ryan Doumit grounded out to short to end the threat.
After the Twins left a runner on third in the third inning, Granderson gave New York a 4-0 lead in the fourth with a solo shot into the second deck in right field.
Minnesota again had a chance to push a run across the plate in the bottom of the fourth following Ryan Doumit's one-out double, but he was thrown out at the plate by Granderson while trying to score on a Jamey Carroll base hit to center field.
Solo home runs by Ibanez and Chavez in the seventh inning gave the Yankees a six-run cushion.
"It was just one of those days," Hendriks said. "Going into the seventh, I just left some ball up and they took advantage."
Pedro Florimon got the Twins on the board with a leadoff homer to right field in the eighth, and Chris Parmelee's pinch-hit, two-run triple in the ninth accounted for the final margin.
It was Pettitte's 500th career appearance ... Granderson hit his 40th home run of the season, joining Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Jason Giambi as the only Yankees to record back-to-back seasons with 40-plus homers. He had 41 last year ... Florimon hit his first career home run ... The Yankees improved to 31-19 in series openers this season ... Minnesota hit 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base ... Jeter extended his hit streak to a season-high 18 games with a single in the ninth inning.