MINNEAPOLIS -- Hours after trading Vidal Nuno to Arizona for Brandon McCarthy and cutting outfielder Alfonso Soriano, the New York Yankees took a nine-run lead by the fourth inning and seemed set for a laugher at Target Field.
The game ended with the potential go-ahead run at the plate.
"Sometimes you can't really pinpoint it, but we like where we're at right now," Ellsbury said. "Hopefully keep it rolling."
Jeter's ninth-inning single made him the eighth player to reach 3,400 hits.
"We pay a little bit of attention, but I don't think he pays too close attention to it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, he's going to end up way up there in record books. He pays more attention to wins, and that's what we worry about."
New York took three of four from the Twins after losing nine of its previous 11.
The 38-year-old Soriano is in the final year of a $136 million, eight-year contract he signed with the Chicago Cubs,
who traded him last summer to the Yankees, where he began his big league career. He was hitting .221 this season with six homers and 23 RBIs in 67 games. New York has 10 days to trade Soriano or place him on unconditional waivers.
"He's a guy that's used to playing every day," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Wasn't every day for him. Maybe it was harder for him to get going, not sure. I'm sure he's extremely disappointed."
New York catcher Brian McCann returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a sore foot and doubled home Jeter in the first. Ellsbury's three-run homer off Ricky Nolasco (5-7) capped a four-run burst in the second that made it 6-0.
Hiroki Kuroda (6-6) allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, his poorest outing since mid-June. Minnesota closed with four runs in the fourth, and one in each of the last three innings. After Oswaldo Arcia's two-out RBI single pulled the Twins within two runs and left runners at the corners, David Robertson got Kurt Suzuki to hit a grounder to shortstop, where Jeter threw to second baseman Brian Roberts for the final out. Robertson got his 21st save in 23 chances.
Jeter drove in two runs in his last scheduled game at Minnesota, although he's expected back later this month for the All-Star game.
Nolasco lasted a season-low two innings as Minnesota lost for the 10th time in 13 games.
"They hit everything he threw up there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We got to go better than that. He did nothing for us today. He didn't give us a chance."
Trevor Plouffe had an RBI double in the fourth and Chris Colabello followed with a two-run homer, his second home run in three games since his recall from the minors. Plouffe added a solo home run in the eighth.
"Can't keep getting behind like this. It just gets back to that," Gardenhire said. "It's the starting pitching. It's not about anything other than that. We've been struggling scoring runs. We finally put some on the board. But you start a game 6-0, that's no way to play baseball."
Twins OF Byron Buxton, among the top prospects in the minors, played his first game with Class A Fort Myers after being sidelined with a sprained left wrist. Minnesota GM Terry Ryan said Buxton will play center field and get two or three at-bats as he works his way back. ... RHP Bruce Billings, recalled Sunday from from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, appears set to start Monday at Cleveland in place of Nuno. He pitched in one game for New York this season, allowing four runs in four innings on April 25 against the Los Angeles Angels. RHP Justin Masterson (4-5, 5.16) starts for the Indians. ... Minnesota will start RHP Kevin Correia (4-10, 4.94) when it plays at Seattle on Monday. The Mariners will use RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (6-4, 3.33).