Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Josh Willingham came home with the winning run on an 11th-inning throwing error by Francisco Cervelli, giving the Minnesota Twins a 2-1 decision over the New York Yankees at Target Field.
Willingham scored both Minnesota runs on the afternoon, previously belting a solo homer off New York starter David Phelps in the seventh inning that tied the game at 1-1. The blast, along with a combined five scoreless frames from five Twins' relievers, helped Minnesota to only its third win in 12 games.
The Twins also halted a seven-game home losing streak to the Yankees, which included setbacks in the first two tests of this four-game set.
Brian Duensing (2-2), the last of those five bullpen arms, earned the win with a scoreless top of the 11th. Starter Yohan Pino also turned in a strong effort, yielding just a run on three hits over six innings.
Willingham's homer was the only blemish surrendered by Phelps, who limited the Twins to a run on three hits over seven sharp innings. Cervelli finished 2- for-4 with an RBI single in the loss, New York's sixth in its last eight.
With Matt Thornton (0-2) on the hill for New York, Chris Colabello began Minnesota's half of the 11th with a pinch-hit double off the top of the right- field wall and moved to third on Kendrys Morales' slow grounder. Willingham was then intentionally walked before Thornton hit Oswaldo Arcia with a pitch to load the bases with one out.
Trevor Plouffe followed with a tapper in front of the mound in which Thornton tossed to Cervelli to force Colabello out at the plate, but the Yankee catcher's throw sailed over the head of first baseman Mark Teixeira as Willingham easily rounded third and crossed the plate.
"I've seen games end on wild plays, but not quite that one I don't think," said Colabello.
Minnesota had mustered few scoring chances against Phelps, who stranded two runners to get out of a mild jam in the third to begin a stretch where he set down 11 consecutive hitters.
That run ended in the bottom of the seventh, when Willingham clobbered a fastball off the second-deck facade in left to tie the game at 1-1.
"It was huge today that I pitched deep in the game for our bullpen, but the name of the game right now for us is winning games," said Phelps. "That home run was a really good swing and a really bad pitch."
Pino, a 30-year-old rookie who entered the matchup with a 6.32 ERA in three career major league starts, was just as stingy. The Yankees mustered just one hit off the right-hander through the opening four innings prior to manufacturing a leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran in the fifth into the game's first run.
Beltran was forced out on a grounder from Ichiro Suzuki, who proceeded to steal second and take third on a wild pitch before Cervelli drove him in with a two-out single to left.
The Yankees then only placed two men in scoring position against the Minnesota bullpen, which surrendered just four singles over its five innings of work.
"We just didn't do much [offensively]," Yankees manager Joe Girardi lamented.
The win was Minnesota's first over the Yankees at Target Field since Sept. 25, 2012 ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected by home plate umpire Marty Foster in the third inning after arguing that a pickoff attempt by Phelps should have ruled a balk ... Cervelli started for a second straight day in place of Brian McCann, scratched from the lineup due to a sore left foot ... The Twins honored retiring Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter prior to the contest by presenting him with an autographed base used in the final game at the team's former home, the Metrodome.