MINNEAPOLIS - Put those stories about a second-half swoon for Alex Rodriguez on hold.
Rodriguez, who looked a bit worn out during the Yankees' six-game homestand to start the second half, hit three mammoth home runs Saturday night in what instantly became one of his team's most impressive victories of the season.
Powered by A-Rod's tying homer in the ninth and John Ryan Murphy's three-run shot later in the inning, the Yankees rallied from an early five-run deficit to earn an 8-5 win over the Twins in front of a sellout crowd of 40,660 at Target Field.
Said Joe Girardi, "It's maybe our best win of the year.''
A-Rod, who turns 40 Monday and was in a 5-for-24 skid entering the night, hit the first pitch of the ninth from Glen Perkins, who entered the game with an American League-leading 29 saves, well over the centerfield wall. The blast, which came on a 94-mph fastball, sailed an estimated 424 feet and gave Rodriguez three homers in a span of five pitches. It was his 23rd of the season.
After singles by Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley, light-hitting catcher Murphy hit his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to right-center off Perkins to make it 8-5.
Andrew Miller pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save.
The AL East-leading Yankees, who had only one hit entering the seventh inning, maintained their 51/2-game lead over the Blue Jays.
The stunned Twins, who entered the game ranked near the bottom of the league in homers with 83, hit four in Friday night's 10-1 win and two more Saturday night.
Five pitches into the bottom of the first inning, the Yankees trailed 2-0 as Aaron Hicks hit a two-run shot off CC Sabathia. Torii Hunter's three-run blast in the third made it 5-0.
"Five runs isn't good enough, but the guys came through,'' Sabathia said.
Sabathia allowed five runs and six hits in 52/3 innings. He turned over a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the sixth to Adam Warren, who struck out Hicks. Warren pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth to earn the victory and unsung hero status for the night.
After a walk to Chris Young in the second, Twins righthander Tommy Milone retired 16 of the next 17, with A-Rod's long home run into the third deck in the fourth -- estimated to have traveled an impressive 452 feet -- the lone interruption.
It was 5-1 in the seventh when Young led off with a double and Rodriguez sent a drive into the Yankees' bullpen in left-center for his second multi-homer game of the season and a 5-3 deficit. Teixeira doubled to center and scored on Headley's sacrifice fly to make it 5-4.
The Twins jumped on Sabathia quickly. Brian Dozier led off the first with a solid single to left and Sabathia got ahead of Hicks 0-and-1 before throwing a belt-high off-speed pitch that he launched into the seats in left for his fourth homer of the season.
Hicks led off the third with a single and Miguel Sano reached on an infield single with one out. Hunter, who homered Friday night, then poked a 1-and-1 fastball to the opposite field for a three-run homer and a 5-0 lead. It was the 40-year-old Hunter's 16th homer of the season.