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Big fourth inning pushes Twins past Yankees, 6-1

03/21/2013 11:40 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

In his first game back after earning MVP honors in the World Baseball Classic, Robinson Cano had the Yankees' only hit of the night.(AP)
David Phelps had his roughest outing of the spring on Thursday night, getting touched up for five runs in 3.2 innings as the Yankees fell to the Twins, 6-1, at Steinbrenner Field.

Phelps pitched well in the first three innings, striking out six Twins and getting himself out of a pair of jams, but his luck ran out in the fourth. A single, a double and a walk loaded the bases -- and catcher Drew Butera unloaded them with a three-run double to give the Twins a 3-0 edge. Pedro Florimon then singled, and Aaron Hicks hit a sac fly to make it 4-0 Minnesota.

Phelps got Brian Dozier to ground out to end his night, but lefty Juan Cedeno -- who was making his return after being part of the World Baseball Classic champion Dominican Republic squad -- came on and surrendered a walk and an RBI single to Chris Parmelee (with the run charged to Phelps) to push the lead to 5-0 Twins.

The Yankees would get one back in the bottom of the inning, as Robinson Cano singled and Kevin Youkilis walked before Travis Hafner hit a fly ball that left fielder Joe Benson misjudged for a run-scoring two-base error, but that was it. Twins starter Liam Hendriks allowed just one other baserunne -- a one-out walk to Hafner in the second inning, in his four frames, and Cole De Vries walked one and hit a batter in his four nearly-flawless innings.

Minnesota got their final run in the eighth on Eduardo Escobar's RBI single off Boone Logan, and Pedro Hernandez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finish it out.

Offensively, the Yankees managed just those five baserunners total, with Cano -- who also made his return from the WBC -- getting the only hit and Hafner being the only one to reach twice.

On the mound, the Yankees did see strong outings from four of their relievers: Mariano Rivera worked around a leadoff walk in the fifth by striking out the side, David Robertson struck out two in his scoreless sixth, David Aardsma threw very few pitches in a perfect seventh, and Preston Claiborne retired the side after issuing a leadoff walk in the ninth.

The loss drops the Yankees to 10-16 in Grapefruit League play, but they'll be back at it right away, traveling to Fort Myers for the back-end of a home-and-home series with the Twins on Friday afternoon.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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