MINNEAPOLIS -- CC Sabathia tossed six strong innings and Didi Gregorius hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh to help the Yankees snap their four-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Target Field.
The three-run blast from Gregorius came on the first pitch from lefty reliever Fernando Abad, who entered with a 0.79 ERA and hadn't allowed a homer all year. It helped Sabathia pick up his second straight win, as he limited Minnesota to one run on six hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts.
"He threw me a fastball right down the middle, and I hit a home run," Gregorius said. "I'm not looking to hit a home run, but it happened. You can at least drive one run in, that's what you always look for in those situations."
"It was just one pitch," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Gregorius' homer. "You realize it's a dangerous part of the game with facing their bullpen the last three innings. We just couldn't make the pitch to stay in the game."
It handed Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson a hard-luck loss, as he exited with one out in the seventh with two runners on and the game tied, but two of the runs from the homer were charged to him. Gibson went 6 1/3 innings, surrendering three runs on six hits and two walks, while picking up his second quality start of the year and his first since April 17.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yes, in-Didi: Gregorius teed off on the first pitch he saw from Abad in the seventh inning, slugging it an estimated 372 feet over the wall in right field for a three-run homer that provided some necessary breathing room. The Yanks had settled for one run despite having the bases loaded with none out in the sixth, as third-base coach Joe Espada held Chase Headley on Jacoby Ellsbury's game-tying RBI single.
"It's been amazing, watching him come over here," Sabathia said. "He was kind of in a tough spot, taking over for [Derek Jeter]. He's played fantastic defense and his bat is waking up. That was a huge hit for us tonight."
Nunez does it again: Former Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez has been Minnesota's best hitter this season, and came through against his former team with a two-out RBI single in the fourth to give the Twins the lead. Nunez has reached safely via a hit in 19 of his last 22 games.
CC stays sharp: Sabathia's last seven starts have been superb, a trend he continued in a 116-pitch performance. Not only did Sabathia's improved pitch mix keep Minnesota's lineup off-balance, but the veteran even fielded his position deftly, making a nice play on Max Kepler's tapper to end the fifth. Sabathia has allowed just four runs over his last 44 innings, an 0.82 ERA that is the best in the Majors over that span.
"I think my command was off all over the place with my two-seamer tonight," Sabathia said. "I had a lot of runners on and threw a lot of pitches but was able to make some pitches. [Brian McCann] called a good game and we got some pitches when we needed it."
Gibson escapes jam: The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth, but Gibson was able to limit New York to one run on an RBI single from Ellsbury. Gibson got Brett Gardner to pop up to second for the first out before inducing an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play from Carlos Beltran.
"It was a great feeling," Gibson said. "A couple crazy things happened to get to that situation. Beltran is a professional hitter and puts together some great at-bats, but I was able to set up the sinker with two changeups that at-bat."
The Twins won a challenge in the fifth, when Eduardo Escobar was initially ruled out at first base for an inning-ending double play. But after a review, first-base umpire Mark Carlson's call was overturned and Escobar was ruled safe. Kepler grounded back to Sabathia to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (3-2, 3.08 ERA) will try to take advantage of an extra day of rest as he takes on the Twins on Friday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Tanaka is coming off an outing against the Tigers in which he was thumped for five runs in 6 1/3 innings, ending a string of four quality starts. Tanaka has a career 2.92 ERA with an extra day and a 3.44 ERA on normal rest.
Twins: Lefty Pat Dean (1-2, 4.17) is slated to start for the Twins in the second game of the four-game series on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Dean is coming off a strong start against the Red Sox, as he limited them to one run over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision on Sunday.