This was the absolute last way the Minnesota Twins expected to break through against the New York Yankees.
Jason Kubel hit a stunning grand slam off Mariano Rivera with two outs in the eighth inning yesterday, and the visiting Twins snapped a nine-game, regular-season losing streak against the Yankees with a 6-3 victory.
"It's a pretty good feeling," Kubel said. "It's an even better feeling that we finally beat them."
Rivera replaced Joba Chamberlain (1-2) with the bases loaded and a 3-1 lead and walked Jim Thome, the first time in 5 years Rivera walked a batter with the bases loaded. Kubel then pulled a 1-0 pitch into the seats in right, startling the crowd of 46,628 at Yankee Stadium.
"You probably should have recorded that. Take pictures. It's probably not something you will see often," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Rivera's off day. "He's the best in the game."
Kubel's third homer of the season and sixth career slam snapped a string of 51 straight converted save opportunities for Rivera at home, tying the major league record set by Eric Gagne with the Dodgers. It was the first grand slam off Rivera since Bill Selby's game-ending shot for Cleveland on July 14, 2002.
"You assume he's going to close every single game," Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira said. "If you ask people in New York, they probably think his save percentage is a thousand, because that's how good he is."
Rivera hadn't allowed a run in 11 innings this year.
"Home run, anything can happen. But walking a run in is unacceptable," Rivera said. "You can not go in there and do that."
The Yankees tried to rally in the ninth, starting the inning with a pair of singles off Jon Rauch. But the closer struck out Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Teixeira to hold on for his 10th save in 11 chances.
Nick Blackburn (4-1) allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings for Minnesota, which earned its first win against New York since Aug. 13, 2008. The Twins had lost 12 straight overall against New York, counting the sweep in last year's AL Division Series.
"This is as good as it has been," said Blackburn, who has won three consecutive starts. "There was no point where I had to make adjustments. The last couple of games I was making adjustments during the game."
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire lamented all of his team's missed opportunities against the Yankees before the game, and he got a couple more to add to his list. But he also got just enough for Minnesota's first victory in New York since July 4, 2007.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're 1-0 against the Yankees in our last one game played," he said. "We'll construe the numbers any way we want now."
In other games:
* At St. Petersburg, Fla., Sean Rodriguez delivered a seventh-inning double and Gabe Kapler added an eight-inning sacrifice fly as the Tampa Bay Rays overcame a frustrating afternoon against Cliff Lee to rally past Seattle, 2-1.
Lee (1-2) took a 1-0 lead into the seventh, limiting the team with baseball's best record to doubles by B.J. Upton and Willy Aybar up to that point. Upton doubled again with one out in the seventh, then scored when Rodriguez followed with his hit off the right-centerfield wall.
* At Detroit, Ramon Santiago hit a two-run homer and Armando Galarraga was sharp in his first start of the season, helping the Tigers beat Boston, 5-1.
Detroit became the first team to win four straight series at home against reigning playoff teams since 1995, when baseball began putting four teams in the postseason, according to STATS LLC.
* At Anaheim, Joel Pineiro pitched a three-hitter for his sixth career shutout, Bobby Abreu hit a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Angels completed a three-game sweep of Oakland, 4-0.
* At Baltimore, Jake Westbrook worked around nine hits for his 13th career complete game, and Cleveland beat the Orioles, 5-1.
* At Kansas City, Brian Bannister pitched six strong innings, Jose Guillen drove in three runs and the Royals beat the Chicago White Sox, 5-3.
* At Toronto, Jose Bautista homered for the third time in two games and the Blue Jays beat Texas, to complete a three-game sweep with a 5-2 win over Texas.