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MIN@NYY: Pavano hurls seven solid frames vs. Yankees

NEW YORK -- It wasn't exactly the way Twins right-hander Carl Pavano wanted to start things off against the Yankees on Monday night.

After hearing a smattering of boos from the crowd at Yankee Stadium after four disappointing years in the Bronx, Pavano quickly gave up three runs in the first inning, including back-to-back homers to Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson.

But instead of folding after a rough opening frame, Pavano settled down to throw seven strong innings to help lead the Twins to a much-needed 7-3 win over the Yankees to snap a three-game losing streak.

"For him to come out in a hostile environment and quickly give up three in the first inning and go out and pitch the rest the way he did, I was awfully proud of him," catcher Ryan Doumit said. "It showed a lot of composure and poise on his part. And that's what you expect from a veteran leader. He showed us something today."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked that he begged Pavano to eat up innings after that shaky first frame, but he wasn't too far off base with his joke. The Twins were down a few arms in the bullpen, as Glen Perkins was out with a forearm issue and Anthony Swarzak is slated to start in Nick Blackburn's place on Thursday.

So Pavano buckled down after the first, allowing just three hits and a walk over the next six innings to lead the Twins to just their eighth win against the Yankees in 41 tries in the Bronx, including the postseason, under Gardenhire.

"He knows how to pitch," Jeter said. "He mixes it up. He can throw any pitch at any time to anybody. He doesn't throw too many balls over the plate, and he did great. He settled down after that first inning."

But Pavano, making just his second start at Yankee Stadium since leaving the Yankees after four injured-plagued years, shied away from saying he found redemption in his win.

"It wasn't about coming in here and putting everything behind me," Pavano said. "Everything that I went through is behind me. It was about coming in here and getting this team back on track. We had sputtered a little coming into this series; I'm the top guy on the staff, I had to set the tone. That was my focus."

Pavano was helped offensively by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, as the pair combined to go 5-for-9 with a homer, two doubles, two RBIs, two runs scored and a walk. It was a big showing from the two, as Morneau played his first game of the year at first base and batted fifth for just the second time dating back to 2007.

"We're going to go if they go," Doumit said. "They're the heartbeat of this team. Those guys are the type of guys that make everyone around them better."

The Twins scored in the first inning for the first time this season, as Mauer doubled and scored on a single from Josh Willingham against right-hander Freddy Garcia. Morneau added a single before Doumit brought home Willingham with a single of his own.

Garcia found his groove after the first, retiring 10 batters in a row before Alexi Casilla doubled with one out in the fifth. Jamey Carroll tied the game with an RBI single and scored on Mauer's second double of the game to give the Twins the lead.

"I felt pretty good," said Mauer, who went 3-for-4 and moved past Michael Cuddyer into 10th place on the club's all-time hit list with 1,106. "Freddy, the ball was moving all over the place. I was able to stay back and get a good one to hit. Tonight was good."

Morneau added an insurance run in the sixth with a solo shot off Garcia. It was Morneau's second of the season and his fifth at new Yankee Stadium in 11 games.

The Twins scored two more in the eighth against reliever Cory Wade, as Doumit singled and scored on a double from Danny Valencia. Clete Thomas added an RBI single to bring home Valencia.

Twins left-hander Brian Duensing tossed a scoreless eighth, and was helped by an impressive diving play from Casilla, before right-hander Matt Capps closed it out in the ninth in a non-save opportunity.

It gave Minnesota just its sixth regular-season win over the Yankees in New York in 34 tries dating back to when Gardenhire took over the club in 2002. But Gardenhire didn't want to talk about the past after the game, instead pointing to the club's record against the Yankees this year.

"You know what? It's a new season," Gardenhire said. "So we're 1-0 at Yankee Stadium." Comments