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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published September 24 2012

Pettitte, Yankees top Twins

MINNEAPOLIS – Andy Pettitte turned in another ageless performance by pitching six scoreless innings and the New York Yankees hit four home runs Monday night to beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 and extend their AL East lead.

The Yankees took a 1½-game edge over Baltimore, which split a doubleheader with Toronto. This is the first time since Sept. 2 their margin has been more than one game.

After playing three tense, one-run games against Oakland over the weekend, including their startling comeback for a 14-inning win on Saturday, the Yankees enjoyed an easy one for a change. This was New York’s 10th victory in 12 games.

Pettitte (5-3) hasn’t given up a run in 11 innings since rejoining the rotation last week. The 40-year-old threw five scoreless innings against Toronto to mark his comeback from a broken lower left leg that kept him out for almost three months.

His successful unretirement, after supposedly ending his remarkable career in 2010, has been a big help for the banged-up Yankees even though this was only his 11th start of the season.

Nick Swisher’s two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off Liam Hendriks (1-8) sailed into the seats above right-center field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Curtis Granderson’s solo shot in the fourth went even higher and farther, landing in the second deck. Granderson became the fourth player in the majors to hit 40 homers this season.

In the bottom of that inning, Granderson made a postseason-worthy throw from center field after fielding a two-out single as Ryan Doumit raced from second base to home. The ball arrived just in time, and catcher Russell Martin made a quick sweep tag that grazed Doumit’s shoulder a spilt-second before his hand touched the plate.

Then in the seventh, Raul Ibanez – who is 7 for 12 with three homers in his last three games – went deep with a drive that reached the standing room space near the gate beyond right field. Eric Chavez added one more home run against Hendriks, an opposite-field liner with one out that barely reached the flower bed in left.

The right-hander from Australia, who recorded his first major league win last week at Cleveland after 17 starts without one, was removed after that. He gave up eight hits, six runs and one walk, striking out four.

Those career statistics for Hendriks are a stark contrast to Pettitte, who stretched his unbeaten streak against the Twins to 12 straight starts. That dates to May 2001 and includes division series victories in 2009 and 2010.

The Yankees have had him on a pitch count in his return to help him regain strength in his legs, but he threw 88 times without any trouble. Pettitte gave up seven hits and one walk. He struck out three.

New York Minnesota

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Jeter ss 3 1 1 0 Span cf 4 0 2 0

ISuzuki rf 5 1 1 0 Revere rf 4 0 1 0

AlRdrg dh 5 0 1 0 Mauer 1b 4 0 1 0

Cano 2b 4 0 0 1 Wlngh lf 2 0 0 0

Swisher 1b 4 1 1 2 CHrmn lf 1 0 0 0

Grndrs cf 3 1 1 1 Mornea dh 4 1 1 0

Ibanez lf 4 1 2 1 Doumit c 3 1 1 0

Dickrsn lf 0 0 0 0 Plouffe 3b 4 0 0 0

RMartn c 4 0 0 0 JCarrll 2b 3 0 1 0

ErChvz 3b 4 1 3 1 Parmel ph 1 0 1 2

Flormn ss 4 1 2 1

Totals 36 6 10 6 Totals 34 3 10 3

New York 300 100 200— 6

Minnesota 000 000 012— 3

DP—New York 2, Minnesota 1. LOB—New York 6, Minnesota 6. 2B—I.Suzuki (26), Doumit (33). 3B—Parmelee (2). HR—Swisher (23), Granderson (40), Ibanez (18), Er.Chavez (14), Florimon (1).

IP H R ER BB SO

New York

Pettitte W,5-3 6 7 0 0 1 3

Chamberlain 1 0 0 0 0 0

Wade Xc 1 1 1 0 0

J.Thomas Xc 1 2 2 1 1

D.Robertson Xc 1 0 0 0 1

Minnesota

Hendriks L,1-8 6Zc 8 6 6 1 4

Perdomo Xc 0 0 0 1 0

T.Robertson 1 0 0 0 1 1

M.Capps 1 2 0 0 0 0

T—2:46. A—33,720 (39,500).