Yankees continue to be mystery for Twins

Santana unable to end season series vs. NY on high note

Yankees continue to be mystery for Twins

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have been a major thorn in the Twins' side for more than a decade, and this season was no different.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins took a one-run lead into the sixth after scoring three runs in the top of the inning, only for Ervin Santana to serve up a second two-run homer to rookie Greg Bird in a 4-3 Twins loss that completed a three-game sweep for New York at Yankee Stadium. After winning the first meeting between the two with a 10-1 victory on July 24, the Twins held the lead in all five of their following games, only to lose each one in heartbreaking fashion.

"It was another tough loss because it was another competitive game down to the last pitch," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But the Yankees found a way to win all three of these games. It seems like a lot of times in this series we'd score and then come back we couldn't put a zero up there."

It was a familiar defeat for the Twins, who had a one-run lead in the sixth on Monday, only to lose, 8-7, and a three-run lead in the seventh on Tuesday, only to lose, 8-4, keyed by Alex Rodriguez's go-ahead grand slam.

"We couldn't contain late in games," Molitor said. "We did have leads. The first night, I think it was the sixth they tied it up, and then last night we know what happened those last couple innings. So they stayed with the game and our bullpen didn't have our best series."

This time, however, it wasn't the bullpen that faltered, as Santana was the one who couldn't hold the late lead. After surrendering Bird's first career homer on an 0-1 changeup in the fourth, Bird came through with another two-run shot on a 1-0 fastball to give the Yankees a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Must C: Bird goes deep twice

"Everything was good, to me it was just one bad pitch," said Santana, who lasted 7 2/3 innings. "I left the first one up -- a changeup. But the second pitch was very good. Down and away. He just hit it very good. In another park, it's probably a double. But here, it's a joke."

It handed the Twins another tough loss, as they dropped two games under .500 for the first time since they were 10-12 on April 30. But Molitor said the Twins need to be ready to move on, as they still seven games left on their road trip with four against the Orioles and three vs. the Rays.

"We have to move forward," Molitor said. "It's a tough way to open a long road trip. But there's no room for self-pity. We have to dig a little deeper and then get ready for Baltimore."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.