Sabathia, Gardner help Yankees beat Twins 5-2

New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro (14) follows through on a run-scoring single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Minnesota Twins catcher Chris Gimenez (38) is behind the plate as New York Yankees' Brett Gardner follwos through on an RBI single during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Twins in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. New York Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury scored on the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Minnesota Twins catcher Chris Gimenez (38) hands the ball to Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) after Berrios allowed the tying run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) awaits the arrival of Twins manager Paul Molitor after allowing the tying run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Twins catcher Chris Gimenez (38), left, third baseman Eduardo Escobar (5) and Twins first baseman Joe Mauer (7) approach the mound for the pitching change. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge hits a fourth-inning, sacrifice fly in a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees' Brett Gardner hits an RBI single during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK — CC Sabathia recovered from a shaky start to pitch six innings, Brett Gardner had a pair of tying hits and the New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Tuesday to ensure their sixth straight series win.

With their ninth victory in 11 games, the Yankees remained three games behind AL East-leading Boston and opened six-game lead over the Twins for the top AL wild card. At 84-67, the Yankees are 17 games over .500 for the first time since September 2015.

Minnesota, which started the night 1 ½ games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the second AL wild card, has lost four of five.

Pitching on seven days' rest in a game that started 65 minutes late because of a downpour, Sabathia (12-5) allowed Minnesota to load the bases in his first four pitches. He fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 but hung on and allowed six hits with one walk and five strikeouts. He retired 10 in a row during one stretch.

Sabathia stranded the bases loaded in the sixth when Gardner caught Eddie Rosario's wind-assisted fly just in front of the left-field wall.

Sabathia fanned Chris Gimenez in the second for his 2,833th strikeout, passing Mickey Lolich for sole possession of 18th overall and third among left-handers behind Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton.

Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances.

New York won despite going 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranding 14.

Minnesota loaded the bases in the first when Brian Dozier singled to center on Sabathia's first pitch, Joe Maurer took a pitch and dropped a bunt down the third-base line that rolled off the bag and Jorge Polanco reached on a bunt single to third when the original out call by first base umpire Gary Cederstrom was overturned on a video review.

Eduardo Escobar hit a run-scoring, double-play grounder, but Gardner tied the score with an RBI double in the second that extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Max Kepler sent a drive off the second deck in right leading off the third, the first home run by a left-hander off Sabathia this season. Gardner tied the score again in the fourth with an RBI single that chased Berrios (12-8), who allowed three runs, five hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Alan Busenitz relieved with two on, threw a wild pitch, then allowed Aaron Judge's go-ahead sacrifice fly.

First baseman Joe Mauer booted Greg Bird's hard-hit, bases-loaded grounder for a run-scoring error in the fifth that made it 4-2. Starlin Castro, who had three hits, added an RBI single in the sixth.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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