Plate umpire Mike Winters took a foul off his mask, had his head rattled and his lip bloodied, and he left Wednesday's game in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Twins lefthander Craig Breslow endured two shots back to the mound that turned into outs in the seventh inning.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made a premature signal to the bullpen in the eighth inning, leaving lefthander Dennys Reyes to face righthanded pinch hitter Richie Sexson. Gardenhire said to Reyes, "Dennys, pick me up; please pick me up," and the Big Sweat did so, striking out Sexson.

Later in the half-inning, righthander Jesse Crain survived an encounter with Alex Rodriguez, when A-Rod missed getting a 3-1 fastball on the sweet spot by a half-centimeter and flew out to center.

In the bottom of the inning, a cluster of fans sitting a half-dozen rows behind the first-base dugout dodged a large, jagged hunk of Justin Morneau's bat flying toward them.

This was hard work for everyone -- manager, umpire, bullpen and fans -- on Wednesday afternoon, but the Twins were able to hold on for a 4-2 victory over the Yankees that pushed the streak of winning home series at nine.

The hard work carried over to the FSN television crew. Marney Gellner was given the assignment of getting postgame insights from Delmon Young, a home run hero for a second game in a row.

Gellner asked Young to go through the at-bat in the fourth inning against Yankees starter Darrell Rasner that resulted in a three-run home run.

To which the Joker, as he's known far and wide, replied: "I swung the bat and it went out."

This was merely another example of the charm that made Young so prized in Tampa Bay that the Rays couldn't wait to unload him after a rookie season in which he drove in 93 runs.

Now, Delmon has zoomed over the 50 mark -- all the way to 52 RBI through three-quarters of the schedule -- with two three-run homers in a 13-hour period.

There might have been less angst in holding the 3-1 lead if Kevin Slowey's services were not lost for the afternoon under amazing coincidences in the bottom of the sixth.

Yankees rookie Dan Giese relieved Rasner to open the half-inning. Joe Mauer singled to center and Morneau and Jason Kubel drew walks. After ball four to Kubel, Giese left because of stiffness in his right shoulder.

Reliever David Robertson took five minutes to get ready. Young came to the plate with the bases loaded, no outs and as the recipient of a semi-standing ovation from the announced crowd of 35,187.

The Joker promptly returned to the form of Games 1 through 118 by missing a slider by a foot for strike three.

Buscher followed with the foul ball off Winters' mask. This sent fill-in umpire Angel Campos up the stairs to get into his gear for working the plate.

Campos was gone so long, there was speculation he had taken a cab to Steichen's on Rice Street in St. Paul to buy some new stuff.

Gardenhire and Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson shared a similar thought during the half-inning's second delay: "Can you believe this?"

Anderson told Slowey he was done, and the Twins went to Breslow, Reyes, Crain and Joe Nathan to get nine more outs.

This was the midst of the Twins' third trip through the fully young rotation that has existed since Livan Hernandez's final start on July 30.

Glen Perkins made his second post-Livan start on Monday and was exceptional with eight shutout innings. Nick Blackburn and Slowey followed with their third post-Livan starts.

Slowey was outstanding for six innings, giving up only a first-inning run.

In between, Blackburn had a frightful time on Tuesday. He lasted 4 2/3 innings and went from a strike-throwing stoic to a pacing, scowling rookie with no urge to challenge hitters.

"Blackie was off all night," Gardenhire said a day later. "But you have to remember -- the Yankees knocked him around in New York, and in his other start against them, he was hit in the head by a Bobby Abreu line drive.

"Winning two of three is pretty good against the Yankees. And two out of three outstanding starts from our young guys against that lineup ... that's good, too."

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m.and 4:40 p.m. •