NEW YORK -- Minnesota's Francisco Liriano's early-season woes continued on Tuesday as the Twins' flame-throwing lefty was knocked out early by the New York Yankees as the Bronx Bombers cruised to an 8-3 win in the second of a four-game series in front of 40,194 at Yankee Stadium.
A four-hit, four-run outburst in the Yankees' third, highlighted by backup catcher Chris Stewart's two-run single, ended another ugly outing for Liriano. It marked the third time in as many starts that Liriano gave up five runs without getting past the fifth inning.
"It's not easy when things aren't going well," said Liriano. "I'm trying to do too much, and I guess I'm putting pressure on myself. I just have to keep working on things."
"No one wants to do better than Frankie," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "It's just a battle for him right now. But I told him, 'It's a long season. You'll be fine.' He's got to go out there and remember what it's like to have fun."
Meanwhile, Yankees ace CC Sabathia, after he had struggled early on, settled down and pitched well into the eighth inning en route to his first win of the year.
The big lefty is now 9-0 against the Twins in his last 11 starts (regular season and postseason) dating back to August of 2007.
"We used a lot of our long (relief) men last night," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "So one way or another, CC had to give us some distance tonight. And, as just about always, he did what we asked him to do."
Twins left fielder Josh Willingham hammered a 1-1 Sabathia pitch over the wall in right-center leading off the second inning to open the scoring with his fifth home run of the year.
New York struck back in the home second when Brett Gardner drove in Curtis Granderson with an RBI double.
Minnesota came right back with two runs in the third - helped by an ejection. Twins centerfielder Denard Span was ejected in the middle of his at-bat for arguing a called strike by home plate umpire Greg Gibson. Gardenhire came out to complain and was also ejected by Gibson.
"I came out to try and help Denard, and I got dejected, and then I got ejected," said Gardenhire.
Replacing Span, pinch-hitter Clete Thomas promptly doubled to drive in second baseman Alex Casilla, who had singled and moved to second on a Sabathia balk.
Shortstop Jamey Carroll singled to send Thomas home to increase the Twins' lead to 3-1.
The Yankees responded, though, big time. With one out, singles by Andruw Jones, Granderson and shortstop Eduardo Nunez brought in one run, and after Gardner walked to load the bases, Stewart stroked a single to right to end Liriano's night.
"It's awesome getting a chance to play here in front of such a big, electric crowd that loves the game and wants you to do well." said Stewart, who was making a rare start in place of a resting Russell Martin. "Hey, I'll take anything I can get," he laughed.
With Matt Maloney on in relief, Derek Jeter's sacrifice fly brought in another run to stake Sabathia to a 5-3 lead.
After Carroll's single in the third, Sabathia was in complete command. At one point he retired 13 Twins in order, and he finished the night with a three-run, four-hit, six-strikeout, one-walk performance over 7 1/3 innings. David Robertson and Corey Wade finished up for New York.
NOTES: Mark Teixeira was a late scratch from the Yankee lineup with what was announced shortly before game time as "flu-like symptoms." Nick Swisher started at first in Teixeira's place...with his home run, Willingham extended his season-opening hitting streak to 11 games, tying the Twins team record set by Jacques Jones in 2002...Gardenhire's ejection was the 61st of the fiery manager's career.