MINNEAPOLIS -- The Yankees came from behind using the long ball before pulling ahead for good in the ninth on a two-run single by Jacoby Ellsbury and holding on for a 7-6 win over the Twins on Saturday afternoon at Target Field. The result brought New York back to .500 and extended Minnesota's losing streak to five games.
Shut out for the first six innings by Twins starter Ricky Nolasco, the Yankees struck late in the game on a pair of two-run home runs by Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran to tie the game at 4-4 in the eighth. Beltran's equalizer was his 18th home run of the season, moving him into a tie for fourth in the American League. Didi Gregorius recorded his fourth three-hit game of the season.
"I've been healthy for the most part and hitting the ball well, but honestly homers are something that I don't really look for," said Beltran, who hit the game-tying shot off Kevin Jepsen. "My approach is basically to stay in the middle of the field. I didn't think it was going to leave the ballpark because I didn't hit it so great, but it was good enough."
The Twins didn't go quietly in the ninth, with Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki clubbing back-to-back, two-out homers off Aroldis Chapman to cut the lead down to one before Trevor Plouffe grounded out to end the game. Lefty reliever Fernando Abad, the Twins' most consistent reliever for much of the season, struggled for a second consecutive outing and was charged with three earned runs in one-third of an inning after walking two and allowing a single to open the ninth.
"I know that this team, no matter what the record is, we're going to fight," Nolasco said. "No matter the result, everybody's in there fighting as long as they can, and to get two off Chapman at the end there was nice. It would have been nicer if we could have gotten one more, but it didn't work out. We're not going to give in, and we're not going to give up."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two big swings: While Beltran's eighth-inning, opposite-field shot tied the game, Rodriguez's 695th career home run halved the Yankees' deficit against Nolasco in the seventh, an estimated 394-foot shot to right field. It also had some historical significance: the homer moved Rodriguez (5,795) past Babe Ruth (5,793) for sixth place on the all-time total bases list, and marked Rodriguez's 350th home run as a Yankee.
"We didn't have anything going. We were down 4-0 and kind of sleepwalking through the first six [innings]," Rodriguez said. "Being down 4-0 in the top of the seventh, we got something going. [Beltran] gave us a big blow in the eighth and then obviously the big blow by [Ellsbury]." More >
Park leaves the park: After a Max Kepler strikeout with one out and a runner on third threatened to derail a promising scoring opportunity in the fourth, Byung Ho Park was able to cash in with a two-out, two-run blast to right-center field to extend Minnesota's lead to 3-0. The homer was projected to travel 401 feet by Statcast™ and was Park's sixth hit in 49 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
"I didn't feel too bad in my first at-bat although I didn't get a hit," Park said through an interpreter, referencing a deep flyout to the warning track in left-center. "I was trying to stay confident as I stepped into the box for my second at-bat, and I got the result that I wanted, so I'm happy." More >
Big Mike stumbles: Though Pineda tied his season high with nine strikeouts, the Twins forced him to deal with regular traffic on the basepaths. His 96th and final pitch came as he was charged with an error, colliding with Kepler while covering first base after a diving stop by Ike Davis. Park lifted a sacrifice fly facing former Twin Anthony Swarzak, producing the fourth run charged to Pineda.
"I thought his stuff was really good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The big mistake he made was to Park; he left a fastball up. The changeup that Escobar hit was not necessarily a bad pitch. I thought his stuff was really good today."
Eduar-dos: Escobar made it two straight games with a ninth-inning homer, barely nudging a 91-mph slider from Chapman over the wall down the left-field line to cut the Yankees' lead to 7-5. It was too little, too late to change the outcome, but Escobar has quietly put together back-to-back multi-hit games after seeing his playing time diminish.
"I think Escobar got a breaking pitch that he was able to get up in the air, and he got a little bit of help from the wind," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was a good at-bat, and he's been swinging the bat well."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Park's two-run home run came on a 96-mph fastball from Pineda, marking his first hit of the season off of a pitch 95 mph or faster.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Nathan Eovaldi (6-3, 4.90 ERA) will try to regain the command of his splitter in the finale of a four-game series with the Twins on Sunday afternoon (2:10 ET). Eovaldi worked four-plus innings in his last start at Colorado, snapping a nine-start unbeaten streak.
Twins: Minnesota will turn to Ervin Santana (1-7, 5.10 ERA) in the series finale on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. The right-hander has struggled through three June starts, posting a 7.79 ERA and allowing five home runs. He hasn't won a game since May 14 at Cleveland.