Twins beat Yanks in 9th


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Start calling the Minnesota Twins the comeback kids.

Justin Morneau hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning to lift the Twins over the New York Yankees 6-5 Saturday night for their fifth straight come-from-behind win.

The Twins trailed 5-4 heading into the ninth with Rivera (0-1), one of the league’s best closers for the past decade, on the hill.

But Luis Castillo beat out an infield hit – his fourth hit of the game – to start the inning and advanced to third on a single by Joe Mauer, who reached second when Hideki Matsui threw to third.

Rivera came back to strike out Rondell White and Torii Hunter, but Morneau followed with a lazy single to right, and Mauer raced around third to beat Gary Sheffield’s throw, whipping the more than 42,000 in attendance into a frenzy.

The Twins’ latest – and best – comeback of this young season put them above .500 (6-5) for the first time following a 1-5 start. They erased two four-run deficits and a three-run hole in a three-game sweep of Oakland, and have come back from one run down in the first two games of the series with the Yankees.

Juan Rincon (1-0) pitched one inning of perfect relief for the win.

Morneau doubled in a run in the second to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Tony Batista scored on a single by Juan Castro.

Yankees’ starter Jaret Wright then hit Shannon Stewart to load the bases with one out, and Michael Cuddyer scored on a base hit by Castillo that bounced just in front of home plate to make it 3-0, and it looked like the Twins would cruise to a victory behind Johan Santana.

Santana looked strong in the first six innings, scattering six hits and two runs while constantly keeping the Yankees’ powerful lineup off balance with a dizzying array of sliders, fastballs and an occasional slow curve.

The Yankees finally chased him from the game in the seventh. Robinson Cano ripped a single up the middle that almost knocked Santana down to start the inning, and one batter later Johnny Damon doubled.

Derek Jeter followed with his third hit of the game, a two-run single in the seventh off reliever Jesse Crain that tied it at 4, and Alex Rodriguez broke the tie with an RBI single one batter later.

Francisco Liriano came in and tossed 1 2-3 shutout innings to keep the Twins within one.

Wright’s first start of the season was a rough one. He went just three-plus innings with eight hits, four runs – three earned – a hit batter and a wild pitch. But Scott Proctor pitched 3 1-3 innings of scoreless relief for the Yankees.

Notes: Twins CF Torii Hunter and Castillo received their 2005 Gold Glove awards. Castillo won his last year while playing second base with the Marlins. … The Yankees signed IF Carlos Pena and RHP Jesus Colome to minor league contracts on Saturday. … White snapped an 0-for-15 slump with a single, just his fourth hit of the season, in the third.

AP-ES-04-15-06 2312EDT