NEW YORK-Rookie first baseman Tyler Austin launched a three-run home run in the third inning to give the Yankees a three-run lead, and then made a sliding, over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory to preserve the lead in the top of the seventh inning during a 7-4 win over the visiting Twins on Wednesday night.
Red-hot Didi Gregorius homered for the fourth straight game and drove in two runs, extending his major league-leading RBI total to 29, as the Yankees won their fifth straight game and ninth in their last 12.
On a misty, foggy night that matched struggling right-handers, neither the Twins' Lance Lynn nor the Yankees' Sonny Gray showed much progress.
Staked to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a home run by Twins third baseman Miguel Sano, Lynn (0-2) gave up a run in the bottom of the first before getting any outs, after singles by Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Gregorius.
Lynn, in his first season with the Twins after six years with the St. Louis Cardinals, is no stranger to early-game difficulties, sporting a career ERA of 5.29 in the first inning coming into Wednesday's game.
But while Lynn escaped further first-inning damage, the Yankees didn't let him off the hook in the third inning.
With two out, Gregorius, who had three hits on the night, launched his ninth home run of the season. After Stanton singled and Sanchez drew a walk, Austin hit his line drive home run to left field, his fifth of the season, for a 5-2 lead and an end to Lynn's night. In 3 2/3 innings, he gave up six runs on seven hits with three walks. He struck out three.
Gray couldn't get through the fifth inning because of recurring control problems that brought him into the game with an 8.27 ERA in four previous outings.
Joe Mauer began the Twins fifth with a hard line-drive single that hit Gray in the upper back as he tried to twist out of the way. Sano then followed with a single.
But Gray struck out Eddie Rosario, and Max Kepler, who finished with three of the Twins' 10 hits, lined out. One out away and with his pitch count mounting, Gray walked Eduardo Escobar, and manager Aaron Boone brought in reliever Chad Green, who got Logan Morrison to pop out.
In 4 2/3 innings, Gray allowed three runs on six hits and five walks. He struck out four, and exited having thrown 104 pitches.
Green ran into trouble in the seventh, when Mauer doubled and Sano walked. One out later, Kepler singled to bring in Mauer. Another single loaded the bases, and Boone brought in lefty Chasen Shreve, who struck out Morrison and then got Robbie Grossman on a pop out that Austin snagged as he went into a slide approaching the right field stands.
Stanton added a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman gave up a single in a scoreless ninth inning for his fourth save.