Yanks win in 3rd straight walkoff

May 17, 2009 3:44:12 PM PDT
Johnny Damon homered in the 10th inning, giving the surging New York Yankees a 3-2 victory Sunday and their third straight comeback win over the Minnesota Twins that was capped by a game-ending hit. Alex Rodriguez homered in the seventh to start New York's rally from a two-run deficit. Mark Teixeira kept it tied in the eighth with a diving play at first base and the Yankees extended their winning streak to a season-best five games.

The past three victories have come in thrilling fashion against the tough-luck Twins, who dropped to 3-22 in the Bronx since the start of the 2002 season.

Melky Cabrera's two-run single off All-Star closer Joe Nathan finished a three-run rally in the ninth that gave New York a 5-4 victory Friday night. Rodriguez's 11th-inning homer won it Saturday, 6-4.

With one out, Damon drove a full-count pitch from Jesse Crain (2-2) into the second deck of the right-field stands for his team-high 10th home run.

Damon tossed his helmet high as he trotted toward the plate, where he was mobbed by giddy teammates. Waiting to do a postgame television interview, he became the third Yankees player in three days to get a shaving cream pie in the face from pitcher A.J. Burnett, delighting the crowd of 44,804.

The last time New York had three consecutive walk-off wins was August 27-29, 1972.

It was Damon's third career game-ending homer, first with the Yankees.

Alfredo Aceves (2-0) pitched a perfect inning for the win. New York will go for a four-game sweep Monday night with Andy Pettitte on the mound.

Minnesota lost its sixth straight on the road, falling to 4-11 away from home and 3-11 against the AL East overall. The Twins have dropped nine consecutive series at Yankee Stadium - old and new - since taking two of three games from May 8-10, 2001. They have lost seven straight here and 10 of 11.

Hitting in the clutch has been one of the biggest problems.

Minnesota stranded 13 runners Sunday, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth.

Burnett and Kevin Slowey matched zeros for seven innings, and the Yankees nearly won on a wild play in the ninth.

Pinch-runner Brett Gardner was on second with one out when Francisco Cervelli hit a sharp grounder up the middle that appeared headed to center field for the winning single. But left-hander Jose Mijares quickly stuck out his glove behind his back and caught a blind break when he batted the ball back toward the plate.

Mauer scooped it up and nearly tried a running throw to first before deciding he couldn't get Cervelli and tucking the ball away.

The speedy Gardner came tearing around third and tried to score as the crowd roared, but Mauer scampered back and made the tag as both players dove headfirst for the plate, knocking away Cervelli's bat.

Slowey fanned a season-high eight with no walks in 7 2-3 innings. Cabrera's sacrifice fly tied it 2-all in the seventh.

There have been 58 homers in 16 games at the new Yankee Stadium - at least one in every game. The record for the first 16 games in a ballpark is 62 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico from 2001-03.

Matt Tolbert's two-out RBI single in the seventh snapped Minnesota's 0-for-21 slide with runners in scoring position.

Another run scored on consecutive wild pitches by Burnett, who issued six walks and uncorked three wild pitches.

The right-hander threw 123 pitches, the most by a Yankees starter since Randy Johnson's 129 on July 19, 2006, and is 0-1 in six starts since beating Tampa Bay 7-2 on April 14.

Notes: David Wells was in the broadcast booth for TBS on the 11th anniversary of his perfect game at Yankee Stadium - against Minnesota. In a neat coincidence, John Hirschbeck was the first base umpire that day and again on Sunday. "Quick game if I remember," Hirschbeck said with a laugh. "It was an exciting day, I will say that. Yankee Stadium was going crazy, leading up to it. It was fun to be a part of."


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