MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jason Kubel ended Minnesota's long power drought in a big way, belting two home runs and driving in five runs in the Twins' 8-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday night.
Kubel hit a solo homer in the sixth, a three-run shot in the seventh and had an RBI double for the Twins, who had gone eight games and 349 plate appearances without a home run before the lefty broke the skid.
Robinson Cano had two hits and two RBIs and Mark Teixeira had two hits for the Yankees, who took two of three games in the series.
Nick Blackburn (6-1) gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings to help Minnesota beat the Yankees for just the second time in 13 games.
Javier Vazquez (3-5) allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings and took the loss.
The victory was a welcome sight for Twins fans, who haven't seen their team beat the Yankees at home since Aug. 13, 2008. Indoors, outdoors, regular season or playoffs, the Yankees have owned Minnesota since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002. Minnesota is 18-54 against the Yankees under Gardenhire and 725-572 against everyone else.
New York has eliminated Minnesota three times in the postseason since 2002 and won nine straight, including a sweep in the divisional playoffs last year, until Kubel's grand slam in the ninth inning off Mariano Rivera on May 16.
New York staggered into its first series at Target Field having lost five of its previous six games, a slump that allowed Tampa Bay to take a 5½-game lead in the AL East. But Rivera resumed his excellent form, picking up two saves in about 4 hours on Wednesday to help the Yankees reassert themselves.
The Yankees won the opener that was suspended by rain 1-0 and then edged the Twins 3-2 in the night game on Nick Swisher's solo homer in the ninth inning.
Sick and tired of answering questions about how good the Yankees are, the Twins broke out in the finale with four doubles in the first three innings to take a 3-0 lead.
Kubel's first homer was the third-longest hit at Target Field, a 426-footer in the sixth that landed near the parking garage just beyond the stands in right-center and made it 5-2.
After Chan Ho Park walked Joe Mauer and gave up a single to Justin Morneau to start the seventh, Chad Gaudin entered and served up Kubel's second homer of the game. With the crowd bellowing "Kuuuuuuuube!" the slumping slugger took his curtain call and received a standing ovation.
The Twins have hit only 12 home runs in their new ballpark and frustration was building as the cool air and swirling winds knocked down several that they were certain should have reached the seats.
Coming off a career year in which he hit .300 with 28 homers and 103 RBIs, Kubel entered the game hitting .217 with three homers and 22 RBIs.
NOTES: Gaudin, signed on Wednesday, made his season debut, and was charged with one run, two hits, a walk and three strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings. ... Gardenhire said 3B Nick Punto (finger) is expected to return to the lineup on Friday night against Texas after missing the past four games. ... Mauer's throwing error in the fourth was just the 10th committed by the Twins this season.