MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - For five innings, P.J. Walters was better than CC Sabathia.
Then Walters made a mistake to Robinson Cano, Sabathia and the Yankees beat the Twins again, and Walters may be on his way out of the majors.
Sabathia won his 200th career game to stretch his winning streak over Minnesota to nearly six years, and Cano hit a tying two-run double to spark New York in a 3-2 victory over the Twins on Wednesday night.
Cano fueled the three-run sixth against Walters (2-5), who was pitching for his job. Trevor Plouffe homered against Sabathia (9-6), but the burly left-hander finished seven innings with seven hits and three walks while striking out nine.
``I just hung the breaking ball. It's a pitch I should've bounced,' Walters said of the 1-2 curve that Cano lined to right that tied the game. ``Obviously, I hung it and that's not what I was trying to do there.'
Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his 28th save in 29 tries in his farewell season.
Sabathia is 11-0 with a 2.01 ERA in his last 12 starts against the Twins. Not quite as dominant as he's been in the past, Sabathia was still plenty overpowering for the Twins, who have lost nine of their last 12 games and three in a row to New York.
Sabathia threw a season-high 121 pitches.
``He's a monster out there. He's a big horse,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``He's going to throw 120. We knew where he was at.'
The Twins were on their way to beating Sabathia for the first time since July 29, 2007, the year he won the AL Cy Young award. Brian Dozier drew a leadoff walk in the third and scored on Joe Mauer's double, his first extra-base hit in nine games.
Shortstop Luis Cruz was charged with an error for throwing over first baseman Lyle Overbay's head to give the Twins runners at the corners with no outs.
But Sabathia bore down after that, striking out Justin Morneau, retiring Plouffe on a fly out and striking out Oswaldo Arcia to finish the inning.
With two outs in the fifth, Plouffe's drive escaped the outstretched glove of center fielder Brett Gardner and bounced high off the top of the wall onto the black batter-eye backing behind it for a 2-0 lead. That was all the Twins could get, though.
Cano has had at least two hits in each of the first six games of this road trip, batting 14 for 24 with 10 RBIs and four home runs. His streak of going deep ended at three straight games, but the four-time All-Star second baseman didn't stop lifting this lagging, injury-ravaged lineup once again. Aaron Hicks made a fully extended catch of Cano's line drive to center field in the eighth inning, the only time the Twins got him out on the night.
With first base open in the sixth, the Twins could have intentionally walked Cano. Instead, Walters tried to pitch around him, made a mistake, and paid for it.
Even Cano had to think hard for a theory why a team would pitch to him when he's this hot.
``The only way you can look at it is it's a team that's not in the race,' he said. ``So maybe when you're in the race, the last thing you want is the same guy to beat you twice or the third hitter beat you. Maybe I would say that's the difference. They're taking their chances: `All right, let's pitch to him.''
With Mike Pelfrey slotted to return to the rotation from a disabled list stint on Saturday, the Twins will have to take someone out this weekend. Kevin Correia has been their most consistent starter and is also their most expensive. Samuel Deduno has found a groove recently. Kyle Gibson just won his major league debut. That leaves Scott Diamond and Walters, but Diamond was their best starter last season and had a strong turn against the Yankees in the series opener.
After giving the Twins solid performances in his first four starts, Walters lasted a total of nine innings over his previous three turns while allowing 16 hits, 16 runs and nine walks.
The right-hander breezed twice through the batting order, but the leadoff walk in the sixth to Gardner was foreboding. Ichiro Suzuki followed with a double, and then came Cano's double.
Walters allowed four hits and three walks while striking out three. Was it enough to save his roster spot?
``We'll make that decision in the next couple of days. We're not even going to talk about that kind of stuff right now,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``We just had a tough loss and the kid pitched pretty good.'
Caleb Thielbar bailed the Twins out, limiting the damage to Overbay's go-ahead sacrifice fly after inheriting a no-out, runners-at-the-corners situation. Thielbar completed two innings, and in 16 appearances the rookie from nearby Randolph, Minn., has yet to be charged with a run. The right-hander has surrendered only five hits over 18 2-3 innings.
The Twins fell to 36-45 at their halfway mark, one game better than their midpoint record in both 2012 and 2011.
NOTES: Twins LF Josh Willingham had arthroscopic surgery in the morning to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. His production was way down from last year, when he hit 35 HRs with 110 RBIs, and manager Ron Gardenhire said he believes the injury that's been bothering him for more than two months has affected his swing. ``He'll never admit to that. He's not an excuse-maker,' Gardenhire said. ... The Yankees will send RH David Phelps (5-5, 4.95 ERA0 to the mound in search of the sweep in the finale on Thursday afternoon. Rookie RH Kyle Gibson (1-0, 3.00) will make his second start for the Twins after winning his major league debut last weekend with six strong innings.
The Associated Press News Service
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