MINNEAPOLIS — Mark Teixeira hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the seventh inning to rally the Yankees over the Twins 6-4 Wednesday night in Game 1 of their American League division series.
Yankees ace CC Sabathia labored, but reliever David Robertson struck out Jim Thome in a key spot, and Mariano Rivera got the final four outs to close another win for the defending World Series champs.
Rivera came on in the eighth with two outs and runners on second and third. He got Denard Span, a former Tampa Catholic standout, to ground out to shortstop. Rivera gave up a two-out single to Delmon Young then got Thome to pop to third.
Even a blown call by the umpires — shades of the past two postseasons — that went against the Yankees this time with two outs in the bottom of the ninth didn't hurt them.
"It's just bad luck for Minnesota. We just keep fighting. That's a great team over there. We've played a lot of tough games against them," Teixeira said.
Michael Cuddyer homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the Twins, who played their first outdoor postseason game in Minnesota since 1970. They were hoping a move from the shabby Metrodome outdoors to gorgeous Target Field would turn their fortunes around, but it was more of the same against the Yankees.
Game 2 is tonight with Carl Pavano pitching for the Twins against Andy Pettitte.
Jorge Posada had two hits and an RBI, and Curtis Granderson added a two-run triple for New York, which has never won a postseason series as a wild card.
Rivera recorded his 40th career postseason saves in 45 chances, but he had to work a little harder than he planned. Replays showed Yankees rightfielder Greg Golson — inserted that inning for defensive purposes — caught Young's sinking liner for what should've been the last out.
But umpire Chris Guccione ruled that Golson trapped it and the call stood after the umpires huddled. Manager Joe Girardi came out to argue, but to no avail. With the tying run at the plate, Thome flied out to Alex Rodriguez to end the game.
"Mo did a great job there," Teixeira said. "Should have been four outs in a row."
Francisco Liriano gave up four runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in 52/3 innings for the Twins.
The Dominican lefty breezed through the first five innings as the Twins jumped out to an early lead. Cuddyer crushed a two-run homer in the second inning and Orlando Hudson scored on a passed ball in the third to make it 3-0.