MINNEAPOLIS -- T-shirts that say "AL East Champions" aren't available for New York Yankees fans just yet, but the team sent several souvenirs into the Target Field bleachers on Monday night.
The Yankees blasted four home runs and got six shutout innings from Andy Pettitte in a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Coupled with the Orioles splitting a home doubleheader with Toronto, the Yankees gained a half-game on Baltimore, and now lead the division by 1 1/2 games with nine remaining.
Pettitte, pitching in his 500th career game, allowed seven hits, improving to 5-3. Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez all cleared the fence against Twins starter Liam Hendriks (1-8), who pitched into the sixth inning as well.
Rookie shortstop Pedro Florimon provided one of the home team's only highlights, hitting his first career home run in the eighth inning off Yankees reliever Cory Wade. Minnesota got two more in the ninth, with two outs, when pinch hitter Chris Parmalee bounced a triple off the wall in deep center, scoring Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit.
Twins slugger Josh Willingham, who has a career-best 35 home runs this season, went 0-for-3 at the plate and left the game early with a left shoulder strain. He is listed as day-to-day.
Pettitte was making his second start since coming off the 60-day disabled list due to a broken left ankle. He is undefeated in his last 12 starts versus the Twins.
Derek Jeter had a single in the ninth, extending his season-long hitting streak to 18 games.
The Yankees got off to a fast start, pouncing on Hendriks immediately. Jeter walked to start the game, advanced to third on Ichiro Suzuki's double off the right-field wall and scored on Robinson Cano's RBI groundout.
Ichiro wasn't stranded for long, as Nick Swisher blasted a home run into the right-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
Minnesota threatened in the first, loading the bases with one out after Denard Span and Ben Revere singled, and Willingham walked. But Pettitte struck out Justin Morneau, then coaxed a grounder out of Ryan Doumit to end the threat.
New York tacked on another run with an exclamation point in the fourth when Granderson launched a high shot 437 feet into the upper deck in right field, making it 4-0.
In the home half of the fourth, the Twins thought they'd get a run on the board, but were foiled by sharp defense. Doumit doubled and came digging for home on Jamey Carroll's two-out single up the middle. But Granderson fired a laser from short center field to catcher Russell Martin, who caught Doumit on the left shoulder with a sweep tag.
NOTES: Twins reliever Matt Capps was activated off the disabled list on Monday. Capps has made 29 appearances and has 14 saves for the Twins, but had not played since July 16 due to inflammation in his right shoulder. ... Granderson's fourth-inning homer was his 40th of the season. He hit a career-best 41 last season. ... Minnesota honored paralyzed high school hockey player Jack Jablonski before the game, inviting the teen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and presenting the family with a check for $10,000 to help with medical expenses.. . . Ibanez was 2-for-4 with the homer on Monday and is now 7-for-12 with three homers in his last three games.