MINNEAPOLIS - New York slugger Alex Rodriguez might have stolen the show with three home runs Saturday at Target Field, but it was another Yankee who provided the game-winning blast.
John Ryan Murphy hit a three-run homer to put New York ahead in the top of the ninth inning as the Yankees won the second contest of the three-game series with Minnesota by an 8-5 final.
Murphy's blast off Twins closer Glen Perkins gave New York the lead for good as Yankees closer Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth. Of course, Murphy wouldn't have been in that position if not for the three homers Rodriguez hit to keep the Yankees in the game.
Rodriguez homered in the fourth, seventh and ninth innings for his fifth career three-homer game. The first put New York on the board, the second cut the Twins' lead to two runs, and the third tied the game at 5-5 in the ninth.
"It was an awesome night," Rodriguez said. "It was an awesome win for us, that's for sure."
Perkins served up a first-pitch homer to Rodriguez to lead off the ninth, which tied the game at 5-5. Four batters later, Murphy's three-run shot to right-center field also saddled Perkins with the loss.
"There's no greater feeling than looking into the dugout and seeing your teammates excited about something you just did," Murphy said. "That's the first thing I was looking for when I was rounding first base was looking back into the dugout and checking out what they were doing."
For Perkins, a three-time All-Star, it marks just his second blown save of the year in 31 opportunities. The other was one week earlier in Oakland when Perkins couldn't hold a one-run lead in the ninth.
Perkins' 29 saves are a league high, but he simply couldn't execute with the game on the line Saturday.
"I threw everything in the wrong spot tonight," Perkins said. "Credit to (Rodriguez) for getting the first pitch. Not too many guys swing at the first pitch off me in the ninth."
Rodriguez's first homer off Twins starter Tommy Milone was estimated at 480 feet and landed in the first few rows of the third deck in left field. The second, which landed in the bullpens in left-center field, was calculated at 428 feet. The final homer of Rodriguez's hat trick measured 424 feet to center.
All told, Rodriguez - who turns 40 on Monday - tallied 1,332 feet of homers in his first three-homer game since 2010.
"It's fun. There were days when I was in my 20s that I couldn't do that," Rodriguez said. "It feels good to do it right before my 40th birthday."
It was the Twins who showed off the power early in Saturday's game en route to an early 5-0 lead.
Center fielder Aaron Hicks put the Twins on the board in the first inning when he connected for his fourth home run of the season.
Hicks took an 0-1 offering from Yankees starter CC Sabathia and sent it an estimated 420 feet to left-center field. The homer scored second baseman Brian Dozier, who led off the inning with a single.
Minnesota right fielder Torii Hunter added a three-run homer in the bottom of the third. His 16th homer of the year put the Twins up 5-0 as he took a Sabathia offering out to right field.
The home run was also the 208th of Hunter's career with Minnesota, passing the late Kirby Puckett for sixth overall on the franchise list.
Yankees reliever Adam Warren (6-5) earned the win after 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Perkins (0-2) was hit with the loss for Minnesota.
Twins manager Paul Molitor was ejected at the end of the sixth inning. Molitor argued with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson after Hicks struck out to end the sixth inning. It's the second career ejection for Molitor as a first-year manager. The other ejection came on June 10 in a game against Kansas City. Bench coach Joe Vavra took over as the acting manager.
"Just kind of a strange scenario," Molitor said. "It was just one of those calls on an important play that I thought it was close enough for him to ask for help on. I don't think it was something that he had probably a very clear look at."
NOTES: Before Saturday' s game, the Yankees selected the contract of RHP Nick Goody and added him to the 25-man roster. Goody was 1-2 with a 1.68 ERA in 48 1/3 innings for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. To make room for Goody on the 25-man roster, New York designated RHP Branden Pinder to Triple-A. INF Gregorio Petit was designated for assignment to clear space for Goody on the 40-man roster. ... Yankees manager Joe Girardi said New York will use a sixth starter for Tuesday's game in Texas to give the rest of the rotation a day off. The sixth starter has yet to be determined. ... Twins manager Paul Molitor said Saturday was just a routine day off for 1B Joe Mauer. The 32-year-old Mauer entered Saturday with a team-high 95 games played. He is batting .277 with 43 RBIs. ... Minnesota and New York conclude the three-game series Sunday at Target Field. The Twins will start RHP Kyle Gibson (8-7, 3.19 ERA) and the Yankees will counter with RHP Nathan Eovaldi (9-2, 4.43).