NEW YORK -- On paper, it looked like a mismatch with Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka going up against Twins right-hander Kevin Correia, who has struggled this year and entered his outing with a 6.34 ERA.
But Correia was able to hang with Tanaka for six innings before the Yankees got to the bullpen and left-hander Brian Duensing in the eighth inning to hand the Twins a 3-1 loss on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Correia surrendered just one run on nine hits and a walk, as he was able to work out of several jams. But he was outpitched by Tanaka, who went eight innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts to improve to 8-1 on the year.
"It was a good start going against one of the best pitchers in the league," Correia said. "I knew runs were going to be hard to come by. Both teams had a lot of opportunities to score, and we both pitched out of a lot of jams. But it came down to the end of the game, and they got the runs and we didn't."
Tanaka got the win with the Yankees scoring in the bottom of the eighth against Duensing, who entered the game with an impressive 1.33 ERA. Duensing threw a 1-2-3 seventh but ran into trouble in the eighth, as he gave up a one-out single to Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole second and reached third on a throwing error by catcher Josmil Pinto. Pinto's throw hit Ellsbury, as second baseman Brian Dozier couldn't get in front of the throw and apply the tag.
"It started tailing up the line a little bit, and usually it's my job to fight and get in front of the runner a little bit but I held back," Dozier said. "It kept tailing and hit his hip or whatever. So I have to do a better job of getting in front of him and getting down the tag."
Duensing walked Brian Roberts to bring up Brian McCann, who ripped an RBI double to right field to give the Yankees the lead. It went just a few inches over first baseman Chris Parmelee's head, ending Duensing's scoreless streak at 10 games at an inopportune time.
"I was trying to throw a pitch where he'd roll over on it and the slider stayed up just a tad," Duensing said. "He put it right over Parm's head. It's one of those things where if it's a little lower, maybe he rolls it over. I liked the pitch sequence but I didn't execute the last pitch."
Duensing then intentionally walked Alfonso Soriano before heavy rain started, causing the game to be delayed. After a 34-minute rain delay, Jared Burton gave up a two-out RBI infield single to Kelly Johnson to give the Yankees an insurance run.
The Twins scored their lone run against Tanaka in the first, as Dozier reached on an error by Johnson at third base to open the game. He advanced to second base on a wild pitch and third on a grounder to second before scoring on a two-out bloop RBI single to right by Josh Willingham.
They had a prime opportunity to add to their early lead in the third with runners at second and third and nobody out, but Tanaka was able to wriggle out of the jam. Joe Mauer struck out for the first out before Willingham hit a soft liner to shortstop for the second out. Tanaka got out of the inning by striking out Oswaldo Arcia.
"He's a strikeout guy and he has that split," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He has the ability to strike out people, and that's important when there are men on base. He was outstanding again today."
Correia pitched out of jams early, especially in the first and second innings. The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the first but didn't score, as Mark Teixeira struck out before McCann grounded into an inning-ending double play.
They also put two runners on with one out in the second, but Brendan Ryan ended the inning by hitting into a double play started by shortstop Eduardo Escobar.
The Yankees finally got on the board against Correia in the fourth on a solo homer by Yangervis Solarte. The former Twins farmhand connected on a 3-1 slider from Correia for his sixth homer of the year.
"I fell behind in the count on him 3-0 and I don't think I gave my best effort on 3-1," Correia said. "I wasn't really locating that well. It ended up being more of a straight fastball down the middle."
It was the only damage done against Correia, but with the Twins struggling offensively yet again, it was enough to hand Correia the no-decision before the bullpen faltered in the eighth. It handed the Twins their seventh loss over their last nine games.
"We're playing tough teams and we came in here and got a win yesterday and had our chances today," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "These guys are giving it all they have and we're getting opportunities to win games. But we haven't been hitting, and that's when you run into some losing streaks."