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Trio of Twins homers backs sharp Blackburn

Trio of Twins homers backs sharp Blackburn

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Trio of Twins homers backs sharp Blackburn
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Nick Blackburn tossed three scoreless innings in his Grapefruit League debut, while Joe Benson, Danny Valencia and Michael Hollimon homered to help lead the Twins to a 5-1 win over the Yankees on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.

"I think I had a little bit more adrenaline out there today," Blackburn said. "I kind of battled myself a little bit. But for the first time out against an actual lineup, I'll take it. There's definitely stuff I need to work on, and it wasn't the best I've felt this spring, but I got through it, and it's something to work on now."

Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes was also impressive, giving up one hit over three scoreless innings. He also walked a batter and struck out one.

"I thought he had everything today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Hughes. "I thought his fastball location was much better; I thought he threw some good changeups. Pleased, very pleased."

"I was happy -- it seemed like my fastball was good," Hughes said. "It was jumping on hitters a little bit, just based on the swings I was getting."

Blackburn, who had previously thrown three scoreless innings in two "B" games against the Red Sox, looked sharp against the Yankees. He allowed three hits, hit a batter and struck out one over three scoreless frames. He was helped out by his defense in the third, when Curtis Granderson hit a one-out double to center field but Brett Gardner was thrown out at home while trying to score from first.

The Twins got on the board in the fifth, as Benson hit a solo homer off right-hander Adam Warren.

But the Yankees came back with a run of their own in the sixth, when Nick Swisher doubled and scored on a single from Francisco Cervelli off left-hander Aaron Thompson.

The Twins retook the lead in the seventh with the help of Valencia's second homer in as many days. Valencia, who hit a three-run homer against the Pirates on Saturday, crushed a solo homer off right-hander Graham Stoneburner.

Up next: Right-hander Carl Pavano is set to get the start against the Rays on Monday at 12:05 p.m. CT at Charlotte Sports Park. It'll be Pavano's third start of the spring, as he's allowed three runs on nine hits over five innings in Grapefruit League play. Left-handers Glen Perkins and Phil Dumatrait and right-handed closer Matt Capps are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Righty James Shields is slated to start for the Rays.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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