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Yankees win series finale against Twins

Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, left, tags out New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, right, at home in the 1st inning Sunday at Target Field. (Reuters photo)

MINNEAPOLIS -- The New York Yankees knocked around Minnesota Twins starter Ricky Nolasco early in a 9-7 win in the finale of a four-game series at Target Field on Sunday.

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"It was our last day here and it was a big win," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It was a good day all around for us."

Nolasco, who was a combined 13-11 with a 3.70 ERA between the Dodgers and Marlins last year, signed the largest free-agent deal in Twins history -- a four-year contract for $48 million -- in the offseason. However, on Sunday, Nolasco (5-7) lasted just two innings, allowing six earned runs and seven hits.

"He didn't have anything," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Nothing was coming out of his hand. They hit everything he threw up there. We've got to do better than that. He did nothing for us today. He didn't give us a chance."

The Yankees went up 9-0 in the game before the Twins responded.

In all, The Yankees collected 14 hits, 10 of which were singles. New York came into the game 20th of 30 major league teams in runs scored with 344.

"It gave our pitchers a little breather I guess," Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury said. "It's a nice win for us and a nice way to start this road trip."

With the Yankees up 3-0, Ellsbury blew the game open with a three-run homer with two outs in the top of the second inning to give the Yankees a 6-0 lead. Ellsbury's blast went 406 feet over the wall in right field, driving home right fielder Ichiro Suzuki and third baseman Kelly Johnson.

In the fourth inning, New York added three more runs to go ahead 9-0. Shortstop Derek Jeter, playing his final regular-season game at Target Field, drove in his second run with a single to right field in the fourth inning to give the Yankees a 7-0 lead. The Yankees went ahead 8-0 when Johnson scored on a fielder's choice by Ellsbury. Then, a balk by Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak allowed first baseman Mark Teixeira to score from third to make it 9-0.

"We like where we're at right now," Ellsbury said. "Hopefully we can keep it rolling. Guys are putting good at-bats together right now and they look good at the plate."

Despite the early hole, the Twins were one swing from winning the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. After an RBI single by right fielder Oswaldo Arcia against Yankees closer David Robertson cut the deficit to 9-7, catcher Kurt Suzuki had two men on with two outs. But he grounded out to Jeter to end the game.

"To our credit to the guys out there, they kept playing," Gardenhire said. "We got within a couple runs there at the end and actually had a chance to tie the ballgame up with a homer. But starting pitching sets the tone. We needed something from him to build on his last one and it wasn't there."

Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (6-6) earned the win, going 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, seven hits and two walks while striking out three. Robertson picked up his 21th save, which ranks third in the American League.

Kuroda said he was somewhat disappointed in his start, but credited the Yankees' bats for the victory.

"With the stuff that I had today it was important that the offense picked me up with that lead early in the game," he said.

Twins' third baseman Trevor Plouffe led the Twins' offense, going 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and two RBIs. Designated hitter Chris Colabello also had a double, a homer and two RBIs, going 2-for-3.

For the Yankees, Ellsbury was 2-for-4 in the game with four RBI, Jeter was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Suzuki was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

New York, who won three of the four games to improve to 14-4 all-time at Target Field, now heads to Cleveland for a four-game series starting Monday.

"It seems like it's been a while since we won a series, so I think this is great," Girardi said. "We have to carry that momentum into Cleveland and try to win another series."