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Published August 21, 2011, 08:45 AM

Twins RHP Blackburn leaves start in 2nd inning

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Nick Blackburn's pitches were flying all over the place, and the sharp pain his in his right forearm made it impossible for him to do anything about it.

By: JON KRAWCZYNSKI, Associated Press

So after walking the bases loaded with one out in the second inning, he summoned the Twins training staff and headed for the showers.

Anthony Swarzak somehow wiggled out of the big-time jam, but Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run and Mark Teixeira added a conventional long ball to help the New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 3-0 on Sunday.

Blackburn lasted just 1 1-3 innings, giving up one hit and four walks and throwing only 23 of his 49 pitches for strikes.

"In the second inning, I just couldn't control anything. ... I was struggling bad enough, couldn't throw any strikes and figured it was time to shut it down for the day," Blackburn said.

He will be re-evaluated on Monday, but manager Ron Gardenhire said the 7 2-3 innings his bullpen had to pitch makes a roster move likely.

Swarzak, who pitched 2 2-3 perfect innings, will replace Blackburn in the rotation on Friday. He entered in emergency duty and fell behind Eduardo Nunez 3-0 but rebounded to strike him out and then get Derek Jeter to line out to right field to escape the bases-loaded jam.

The Twins bullpen held the powerful Yankees lineup, which included Alex Rodriguez for the first time in more than six weeks, down for six innings, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly from Russell Martin in the sixth off of Phil Dumatrait (1-2).

In a breakout season in the Bronx, Granderson has launched 34 balls into the seats to help the Yankees weather Rodriguez's long absence.

The Yankees left the bases loaded twice in the first five innings and seemed to be slogging through the final game of a seven-day road trip when Granderson stepped to the plate against Jose Mijares in the seventh.

His drive hit high off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field and got away from both center fielder Ben Revere and right fielder Jason Kubel.

"I think Ben might have thought the ball was out of the ballpark and kind of relaxed a little bit, and then the ball hit and bounced," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You've got two outfielders. Normally one goes to the ball towards the wall and the other one backs up and plays it off the wall, and they both went towards the wall, and it ricochets and bounced completely off. You can't relax at all. It looks like we did a little bit, thinking the ball was out."

Kubel said the way the ball came off the wall completely surprised him.

"I've never seen a ball hit up into that area," Kubel said. "I just thought it was like every other ball, 99 percent of the time it just drops down and hits the fence."

Instead it kicked away and Granderson motored around the bases and easily beat the throw home for his third career inside-the-park home run.

"Nothing he does really surprises me anymore," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You just kind of expect him to do something great every day."

Teixeira followed with a solo shot to left field to make it 3-0, giving them enough room even with Rodriguez still shaking the rust off in his first game in more than a month and a half.

Rodriguez went 0 for 5, but the Twins were completely shut down by Yankees starter Ivan Nova (13-4), who allowed five hits and struck out five in seven shutout innings. Mixing his slider with his changeup and fastball, Nova only ran into trouble once when Granderson and Nick Swisher misplayed a pop fly from Danny Valencia in the fifth that fell in for a double to give the Twins runners at second and third with nobody out.

Nova fanned Rene Tosoni and Matt Tolbert and got Drew Butera to ground out to first base to end the inning.

Joe Mauer had three hits, but with Justin Morneau sitting out with a sore right foot and Michael Cuddyer out again with a neck injury, the Twins left eight runners on base over the final five innings and dropped 12 of their last 16 games.

"Unfortunatley, you saw us leave a lot of men out there," Gardenhire said. "Some not very good at bats, the fifth especially. Some not good at bats at all, with a chance to get some runs and just basically nothing offensively today."

NOTES: With Rodriguez on the field and Jim Thome in the lineup for the Twins, it was the first time two players with 600 career homers had met in a game since Hank Aaron's Braves played Willie Mays' Mets on July 17, 1973, according to STATS, LLC. Thome went 1 for 3 with a walk. ... Joe Mauer had his first fielding error at 1B on a grounder from Granderson in the ninth. ... Tosoni, Tolbert and Butera combined to go 0 for 10 with four strikeouts. ... The Twins will open a series against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night. Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.52) will start for the Twins against Zach Britton (6-9, 4.66). After a rocky finish to July, Pavano has a 2.01 ERA over 22 1-3 innings pitched in three August starts.

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