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Mark Teixeira's 11th-inning homer gives New York Yankees 4-3 win over Minnesota Twins in AL division series

NEW YORK — There's so much the Yankees have going for them.

Alex Rodriguez, suddenly looking like the new Mr. October, hit a two-run tying homer in the ninth. Then Mark Teixeira, showing thus far to be worth every one of his $180 million, led off the 11th with a homer, giving them a 4-3 win over the Twins on Friday and a decisive 2-0 lead in the best-of-five division series.

So it hardly seems right for them to get so much help.

Certainly from the Twins, who left 17 men on base, saw their All-Star closer blow a save and make an errant throw and cost themselves a run with a stupid base­running mistake.

And from the umpiring crew that — despite the addition of two umpires on the foul lines just for this reason — horribly blew a fair-foul call in the top of the 11th (and acknowledged it later) that might have cost the Twins the chance to take the lead.

"It's tough," Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer said. "But those are the things that tend to happen here."

Forgive the Twins if they're not big fans of the new Yankee Stadium. They've played six games there, lost them all, four in walkoffs.

"It just seems like every time we're walking off with our heads down," said Twins outfielder Denard Span, the Tampa product. "It's tough because we know this is a game we needed."

The Yankees felt like they needed it too, heading to the raucous and unpredictable Metrodome as they now have three chances, starting Sunday, to get the one win they need to move on.

After Teixeira's shot off rookie Jose Mijares just cleared the leftfield wall, they bounced, did the shaving cream pie thing and cele­brated like they needed it. It was the 16th time this season they have won on the final pitch.

The way they did it made it even better as Rodriguez, whose past Octobers have been dreadful, delivered for the second straight game.

With the Twins leading 3-1 — in large part due to the efforts of ex-Ray Brendan Harris — and closer Joe Nathan, who had converted 47 of 52 save opportunities, including his past 12, on the mound, the Twins felt pretty good about things.

But he gave up a leadoff single to Teixeira then, after falling behind 3-and-1, a two-run homer to Rodriguez, who looked to the dugout and pumped his fist.

"It just felt really good," he said. "Obviously, we needed it. It's the way we've been playing baseball all year. For me personally, that was, obviously, a lot of fun."

The end came even quicker as Teixeira led off the 11th by drilling a 2-and-1 pitch from Mijares.

"It's a pretty unbelievable feeling as a manager when you get to put those two guys in your lineup every day," Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said. "They've been huge for us all year."

The controversial call came in the top of the 11th. Joe Mauer's drive down the leftfield line clearly landed fair but was called foul. Mauer ended up singling. And the next two hitters did, too, but the Twins failed to score.

Mauer was diplomatic afterward, saying, "We try not to focus on one play. We had our chances to win."

They did, including Carlos Gomez's fourth-inning gaffe of overrunning second to negate a sure run. But it wasn't hard to believe the right call would have put them in position to take the lead.

"You can figure that out, I think," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's really disappointing."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com

Yankees 4

Twins 3

11 innings

Mark Teixeira's 11th-inning homer gives New York Yankees 4-3 win over Minnesota Twins in AL division series 10/09/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 10, 2009 12:53am]

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