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Defense keeps Santana out of trouble

NEW YORK (AP) -- Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins' dazzling
defense had the New York Yankees seeing double.

Santana and the Twins escaped trouble with the help of a
record-setting five double plays, Jacque Jones homered in his first
start since the death of his father, and the Twins beat the Yankees
2-0 Tuesday night to win their eighth straight opener in a
postseason series.

"I was able to throw the right pitch at the right time because
I know my teammates can make some plays," Santana said. "Tonight
we proved what the team, the Minnesota Twins, are all about."

Minnesota's Soul Patrol outfield twice denied the Yankees with
jumping catches -- left fielder Shannon Stewart saved one run and
possibly two on Ruben Sierra's shot in the second, and center
fielder Torii Hunter pulled in an eighth-inning drive by Alex
Rodriguez at the top of the wall.

Hunter also threw out Jorge Posada at the plate in the second to
complete the second double play by the Twins, who set a record for
twin killings in a nine-inning postseason game.

"That's our game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Brad Radke now starts for the AL Central champions on Wednesday
night, trying to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, which
shifts to the noisy Metrodome in Minneapolis starting Friday.

New York, which lost the first game of all three postseason
series it played last year, is in familiar position: The Yankees
have dropped the first-round opener in three of the last four
seasons -- winning the series each time, but losing to Anaheim two
years ago after leading 1-0.

Santana, unbeaten in 16 starts since the All-Star break, allowed
eight hits in seven innings, the most off him since May 23. Four of
the Yankees' first six batters reached safely and 10 of the first
24, but Santana kept escaping.

"He pitched his heart out," Gardenhire said. "He was
unbelievable tonight."

Juan Rincon pitched the eighth, and Joe Nathan finished for the
save with the Twins' only 1-2-3 inning of the game. New York, shut
out for the second straight time in postseason play, went 0-for-6
with runners in scoring position.

"We had many opportunities," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
"Santana probably didn't have his best stuff tonight, but when he
needed to get a groundball, he got it."

Jones, just back from California after making funeral
arrangements for his father, homered off Mike Mussina in the sixth.
Jones took a red-eye flight to rejoin the team Tuesday and intends
to go back to California for the funeral Thursday.

"A lot of guys on the team expected to see him do something
special tonight," Gardenhire said. "I think that's supposed to
happen, he's supposed to hit a home run."

Jones' opposite-field drive to left was his first postseason
homer -- he pumped his fist in the air when it cleared the wall just
after he rounded first base, and as he crossed the plate he pointed

"I know he's excited," Jones said of his father, Hardy. "He's
watching me like he always has, even when he was here with us."

The closest the AL East champs came to scoring was in the
seventh -- after another of the long "God Bless America"
renditions that Gardenhire dislikes. Sierra hit a drive past the
left-field foul pole -- left-field umpire Jerry Crawford signaled a
home run, but after a huddle by several umpires, the call was
correctly reversed to foul, drawing boos from the sellout crowd of

Mussina, the most dependable starter on the weakest Yankees'
rotation in years, had been 20-2 against the Twins before losing in
the playoffs last year and at the Metrodome on Aug. 18.

He allowed his first run in the third on an RBI single by
Stewart, who was 3-for-3 with two RBI against Mussina this summer
in the pitcher's first start off the disabled list.

Minnesota had lost 20 of its previous 23 games against the
Yankees, including last year's playoff series, and New York
repeatedly appeared to be on the verge of breaking ahead in this

Bernie Williams took a called third strike on an offspeed pitch
with two on in the first, the ninth pitch of his at-bat, and
Rodriguez easily was caught stealing at third.

"It's a hard loss," Williams said.

Then in the second, after Posada and Hideki Matsui singled to
start the inning, the outfield Gardenhire calls the Soul Patrol
took over, with Stewart and Hunter saving Santana. Hunter thought
Rodriguez's drive was helped by the wind.

"Either I was going to be knocked out, or I was going to catch
it," said Hunter, who has won three straight Gold Gloves.

Three Yankees hit into 6-4-3 double plays -- Posada in the
fourth, Derek Jeter in the fifth and Williams in the eighth.

"We hit the ball hard at some people," Jeter said. "That's
the way it goes."

Game notes
Torre won't decide his Game 3 pitcher until Wednesday.
Because New York isn't sure whether RHP Orlando Hernandez (tired
arm) will be available, New York is carrying 11 pitchers and
dropped Jason Giambi from the active roster. Hernandez played catch
but didn't throw off a mound. ... Michael Cuddyer's seventh-inning
single went just over the head of a ducking Mussina. ... Jeter
played in his 100th postseason game. ... Santana left last year's
opener after four innings because of a cramp. ... Torre used Tom
Gordon and Mariano Rivera, even though the Yankees trailed. ... The
shutout was Minnesota's first in the postseason since Jack Morris
beat Atlanta 1-0 in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. ... Asked
about his team's offense, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner told
reporters: "We'll see you later."