MINNEAPOLIS - The nights are definitely getting cooler. But the race for the AL East title isn't cooling off at all.
The New York Yankees remained 1 1/2 games up on Baltimore on Tuesday, failing to take advantage of an Orioles loss by falling 5-4 to the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins, who are seemingly enjoying the spoiler role, rallied from a 3-1 hole with a big seventh inning, loading the bases against New York starter Phil Hughes (16-13) with one out. Hughes gave way to Boone Logan, whose first pitch went to the backstop, allowing Ryan Doumit to score from third. When Denard Span laced a double to center, scoring Chris Parmelee and Jamey Carroll, the Twins had the lead for good. Joe Mauer added an RBI single as Minnesota sent nine men to the plate in the four-run inning.
Esmerling Vasquez started for the Twins and pitched six innings -- the longest outing of the rookie's career -- allowing seven hits and a pair of Yankees runs. Casey Fien (2-1) got the win for the Twins, pitching the seventh inning and allowing Russell Martin's 19th homer of the season.
Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for Minnesota, allowing a pinch-hit homer by Andruw Jones with two outs and two strikes. Perkins then struck out Jayson Nix for his 15th save.
New York threatened right out of the gate, as Derek Jeter led off the first inning with a single, and went to third with two outs on a Robinson Cano single. But Vasquez coaxed a pop fly to third out of Nick Swisher, stranding Jeter.
The Yankees used their most reliable weapon, the long ball, to get on the scoreboard in the fourth. Cano led off with a single, and Swisher planted a 3-2 pitch in the flower pots lining the outfield wall in right field for a 2-0 New York lead. It was the third homer in as many games for Swisher, and his second two-run shot of the series with the Twins.
Minnesota got one run back in the bottom of the fourth. Mauer led off with a single, his second hit of the game, and with two outs, he scored from first when Parmelee doubled down the left-field line. Ichiro Suzuki, playing in left, got to the ball and looked like he might have a play at the plate, but bobbled it just enough to allow Mauer time to get across the plate.
NOTES: Twins slugger Josh Willingham was scratched on Tuesday and is not expected to play until Friday at the earliest. Willingham strained his left shoulder in Monday's loss to the Yankees while leaping to try and rob Eric Chavez of a home run at the left-field wall. Willingham, who has a career-best 35 homers, is listed as day-to-day. ... Jeter singled to right on the third pitch of the game, extending his season-long hitting streak to 19 games. He also hit safely in 19 straight games in May of the 2007 season. ... The Yankees, who lead the majors in homers, have hit at least one home run in their last 11 consecutive games versus the Twins. ... With 90 losses entering Tuesday's game, this marks the 11th time in the 52 years the Twins have played in Minnesota that they have lost 90 or more games in a season. Their worst loss total was 102 in 1982, whichwas also their first season in the Metrodome.