Bronx, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Josh Willingham's solo homer sparked a six-run ninth inning as the Minnesota Twins rallied past the New York Yankees, 7-2, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Willingham quickly tied things up at two with his blast to left off David Robertson (0-2). Kurt Suzuki and Aaron Hicks walked to put men on first and second with two outs. Brian Dozier followed with an RBI double to left. Joe Mauer was intentionally walked before Matt Daley took over for Robertson. Eduardo Nunez greeted Daley with a two-run double to right, and Oswaldo Arcia added a two-run single off Matt Thornton.
"I just couldn't make any good pitches," Robertson said. "I couldn't make any quality pitches to get outs. Walk two guys in the inning and then intentionally walk Joe Mauer, it's a tough break. I stunk today. What can I say? I didn't get the job done."
The six-run ninth inning allowed Phil Hughes (6-1) to get the win against his former team. Hughes, who spent his first seven seasons in the majors with New York, allowed two runs on three hits while striking out six over eight innings. Caleb Thielbar tossed a perfect ninth.
"A little bit more nerves than usual, but thankfully I was throwing strikes early and was able to make some pitches," Hughes said. "Obviously, it was a half-inning away from being a different story, but the guys rallied there in the ninth and it was a solid win for us."
New York starter Chase Whitley gave up one run on five hits while striking out six over five innings. He was denied his first major league victory.
Hughes walked Brian McCann in the second inning, ending his walkless run at 178 batters.
The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the third. Hicks led off with a single, moved to second on Dozier's groundout and raced home on Trevor Plouffe's single to left.
The Yankees scored their only two runs of the game in the fourth. Brett Gardner tripled to right-center field and crossed the plate on Derek Jeter's single to right. Jacoby Ellsbury singled and McCann walked to load the bases with nobody out. Following an out, Jeter scored on Ichiro Suzuki's sacrifice fly to center. Brian Roberts struck out looking to keep it a 2-1 game.