MINNEAPOLIS — Phil Hughes carved up a lineup for the second straight outing, and this time the New York Yankees actually gave him some run support to reward him for his efforts.
Hughes appears to be finding himself on the mound of late, and it couldn't come at a better time for the Yankees with Hiroki Kuroda suddenly ailing.
Robinson Cano homered for the third straight game and Hughes gave up one run on six hits in seven innings, lifting the New York Yankees to a 7-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
Hughes (4-7) struck out three and walked two.
"You want to keep that ball rolling," said Hughes, who gave up two runs in eight innings of a 2-0 loss to Kansas City last week. "Hopefully it's the start of a good stretch I can roll off here."
Kuroda left the Twin Cities to get an MRI on his left hip flexor. Manager Joe Girardi said the test came back clean, but Kuroda will miss his next scheduled start on Friday as a precaution. Ivan Nova will start in his place and Kuroda will be evaluated after that.
"He was a little tender after the game Sunday," Girardi said. "It's good news. He said he felt better today, but we thought we'd get it checked out."
Kuroda is 7-6 with a rotation-leading 2.95 ERA this season.
Cano followed up a two-homer performance Monday by going 2 for 4 with three RBIs and Alberto Gonzalez had two hits and three RBIs as well for the Yankees. New York has broken out for 17 runs in the first two games of the series to snap a five-game skid.
Samuel Deduno (4-3) gave up three runs on five hits in six innings for the Twins. Brian Dozier had a two-run double in the ninth, but the Twins couldn't get much going against Hughes and lost for the eighth time in 11 games.
Mariano Rivera got one out in the ninth for his 27th save.
Hughes entered the outing with three straight losses, tying the longest skid of his career. But the Yankees did not give him a single run of support in his previous two starts. Without injured stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees have struggled mightily to sustain any kind of offense.
They made up for it on Tuesday.
Cano is the only mainstay still standing, and he's starting to put this nameless lineup on his back. He has hit four homers in the last three games, the last one a 405-foot, three-run drive onto the veranda behind the right field bleachers that broke the game open in New York's four-run seventh inning.
But it was the light-hitting Gonzalez who got the Yankees going. Starting at shortstop for the injured Jayson Nix, Gonzalez had not driven in a run since joining the Yankees from the Chicago Cubs.
Gonzalez got on the board with a two-run double down the right field line in the fifth inning. Deduno then misplayed a slow roller up the first baseline from Ichiro Suzuki, bobbling the ball just before it was set to roll foul and allowing Gonzalez to score for a 3-1 lead.
Gonzalez then made a superb play in the field, running on a dead sprint with his back to home plate and laying out at the last second to snare a shallow pop fly from Joe Mauer that would have dropped in for a bloop single.
"I feel very happy, very pleased to finally get the opportunity to be able to support my team," Gonzalez said through an interpreter. "Finally, the moment I was waiting for."
Mauer snapped an 0-for-18 skid with an RBI single in the third inning to get the Twins on top 1-0.
The Twins had a golden chance to extend the lead in the fourth inning when they opened with runners on second and third and none out. But Hughes steadied himself, striking out Chris Parmelee and Aaron Hicks and getting Pedro Florimon to groundout to end the inning unscathed.
"To get out of that inning it felt like it really swung the momentum in our favor just to get out of that inning without putting up a score and give our guys a chance to come back from that," Hughes said.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire agreed.
"That took the wind out of our sails," he said.
Hughes only allowed two baserunners the rest of the way to pick up just his second victory since May 10.
NOTES: The Twins gave Rivera a retirement gift in a pregame ceremony: a rocking chair made in part from broken bats with the inscription, "Chair of Broken Dreams." Rivera smiled widely. "I was expecting someone to do something like that with broken bats, but that was, that was awesome," he said. "That was great. That was wonderful. Made me laugh a lot." ... Nix did not play because of a sore right hamstring. He is day to day. ... Gardenhire said he was going to give struggling RHP Jared Burton a breather from his setup man role. He said he would look to get Burton into some situations where there was less pressure to help him try to regain his confidence. ... The Yankees will send LHP CC Sabathia (8-6, 4.15) to the mound for Game 3 on Thursday against RHP P.J. Walters (2-4, 6.03).