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Yankees score early to beat Twins

Photo by Reese Strickland / USA TODAY New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner, front, hits a leadoff triple in the first inning of Friday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. The Yankees beat the Twins 6-5.

MINNEAPOLIS — Early offensive fireworks turned into a battle of the bullpens as the New York Yankees scored six runs in the first two innings and held on for a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday at Target Field.

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Second baseman Brian Roberts had four extra-base hits to lead the Yankees. The nine total bases were a career high for Roberts, a veteran of 1,401 games with the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.

“A win is always good, and we need wins,” Roberts said. “Anytime you can contribute, it’s always good, whether it’s one hit or four hits or whatever it is.”

Roberts’ first-inning double followed a triple by Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner and resulted in the game’s first run. Roberts scored two batters later on a double by first baseman Mark Teixeira, who advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead heading to the bottom of the first.

In the second inning, Roberts followed a Gardner walk with a sharp drive that landed just inside the left-field line. It would have been another sure RBI, but the ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Both runners scored on a single by center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to make it 6-1.

“We’ve said all along that (Roberts’) numbers aren’t indicative of how he’s swung the bat,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We think he’s hit the ball pretty hard. Today, he didn’t hit them at people.”

All of the damage was done against Twins starter Kyle Gibson, who lasted just two innings, allowing six runs — five of them earned — six hits and a walk. For Gibson, who entered the game with the lowest ERA among American League pitchers at home this season (1.54), it was the rare rough outing at Target Field, where he was 4-1. He took the loss and dropped to 7-7.

“The first inning, you never know, he could find it,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Second inning, he was just misfiring and every time he made a bad pitch they made him pay for it. They were all over him.”

Despite the rough outing, Gibson said he felt OK, especially in the second inning. But a two-out walk forced the inning to continue, and the right-hander gave up the ground-rule double to Roberts and the RBI single to Ellsbury.

“I had two outs and given up the solo run. If I’m able to get that out, I probably do go out for a couple more innings,” Gibson said.

Roberts tripled in the fourth and doubled again in the seventh, but neither hit resulted in further damage.

“Hitting is contagious,” Roberts said. “When a couple guys start struggling, everybody starts struggling. A couple guys start hitting, it can start to roll. Hopefully, we’ll start moving in that direction.”

Despite the early hole, Minnesota stayed in the game, getting a leadoff home run from second baseman Brian Dozier in the first inning and from designated hitter Chris Colabello in the second. A triple by right fielder Oswaldo Arcia was sandwiched by two singles in the third to make it a two-run game again.

Yankees starter Chase Whitley didn’t last long enough for the win, going three innings and allowing four earned, eight hits and a walk. David Huff pitched three perfect innings of relief for the win, improving to 3-0.

Minnesota threatened in the eighth with two runners in scoring position with one out against Yankees reliever Dellin Betances. Colabello knocked in one with a groundout to second, but Teixeira robbed Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar of the tying hit with a diving stop of a ground ball headed into the hole between first and second.

“They made a couple of really, really big-time plays out there,” Gardenhire said. “That was one of them. (Escobar) hit the living fire out of that ball and there you have it, should be a tie ballgame, but he made a great play.”

Yankees closer David Robertson worked his second straight game, pitching around a two-out double for his 20th save of the season.