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No A-Rod? No problem for Sabathia, Yankees

MINNEAPOLIS -- CC Sabathia stopped his two-start losing streak with nine strikeouts over seven innings, and the New York Yankees hit three home runs to support him in an 8-4 victory over the depleted Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.

The Yankees lead the majors with 163 homers this season, despite only 13 from Alex Rodriguez, who has been out following knee surgery last month. Rodriguez rejoined the team Thursday, but was not in the starting lineup.

Mark Teixeira hit his 33rd homer, a two-run shot in the third, and Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones hit back-to-back deep balls in the fifth inning against Brian Duensing (8-12).

Jones sent his into the third deck above left field, an estimated 434 feet.

Sabathia (17-7) gave up four runs -- three earned -- and walked only one. Including postseason games, the Yankees improved to 60-19 against the Twins since 2002 and 20-3 over the last three years. They stayed a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East race.

Duensing yielded 10 hits and six runs, finishing five innings.

Sabathia stumbled through his last two starts, struggling to put his fastball and changeup in the right place, but manager Joe Girardi expressed confidence before the game that he'd rediscover his rhythm.

The Twins, with their patched-together lineup and recent struggles against the burly left-hander, were the right team for him to face. Despite giving up 10 hits for the third time in his last four starts, Sabathia raised his record to 8-0 in his last nine outings -- including the postseason -- against Minnesota. His ERA in that span is 1.72.

Reserve infielder Luke Hughes, recalled from Triple-A Rochester, missed his scheduled flight to Minnesota and didn't arrive at the ballpark until after the game started, leaving the Twins without any healthy bench players at first pitch.

That meant catcher Joe Mauer would make his debut in right field debut.

That left the Twins with an outfield of Rene Tosoni, Ben Revere and Mauer, whose last game in the outfield was as a teenager.

The Twins scored twice in the second on a single by Tsuyoshi Nishioka and a fielder's choice hit by Drew Butera, but Sabathia breezed through the middle innings -- recording 10 outs in a row during one stretch.

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