BOSTON – While the Twins outhit the Red Sox, they struggled to get on the scoreboard. But Minnesota continued to fight back, twice eliminating two-run deficits, and it finally paid off when they scored four runs in the ninth inning Saturday night for a 6-4 win in Fenway Park.
“Wow! What a finish,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Some great at-bats in the end and Joe [Mauer] hits one over the wall.
“A very exciting ballgame. I think that tells you a little about baseball - all the ups and downs.”
The Twins trailed until tying the score 2-2 in the eighth. But the Red Sox took a two-run lead in the bottom of the inning.
In the ninth, Minnesota scored four runs off Alfredo Aceves, with Mauer's three-run homer accounting for the final runs. It was Mauer’s seventh homer of the season and his first with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Mauer’s home run came on a 3-and-2, 95 mph fastball.
“I was just trying to be on time for a fastball,” he said. “He threw me a lot of nasty pitches that at-bat. He's got a good change and a good curveball. I just wanted to make sure I was on time for a fastball in case I got it, and I got it.”
Just before the home-run pitch, Mauer let another 95 mph fastball go for ball three, a very close pitch on the outside corner.
“Ah, man, he's been doing it for how many years now?” said Jamey Carroll, who scored on Mauer’s home run. “You've got to be confident that if it’s a strike, he's going to swing. If it’s not, he’s not. I knew it was going to be at least off the wall and we were going to take the lead there.”
It’s the first time the Twins have won three in a row in Fenway Park since winning five straight from Sept. 25, 1993 to June 15, 1994.
After losing the first two games of the four-game series, Boston took a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and second innings.
In the first, Twins right-hander Cole De Vries walked leadoff hitter Ryan Kalish, who scored from first on Carl Crawford’s double off the wall in left-center field.
In the second, Mike Aviles hit a one-out home run into the second row of seats in left field. It was his 11th home run and 52nd RBI of the season, both career highs.
The Twins got on the scoreboard in the fifth when Boston committed two errors. Carroll beat out a one-out infield single, taking second on right-hander Clay Buchholz’s errant pickoff attempt. Ben Revere beat out a grounder just in front of the plate, with Carroll scoring on catcher Kelly Shoppach’s errant throw, cutting Minnesota’s deficit to 2-1.
Boston committed three errors in the game, including another errant pickoff attempt by Buchholz in the second.
The Twins tied the score in the top of the eighth. Left-hander Andrew Miller, who began the inning in relief, faced three batters but could not record an out. He walked Denard Span, gave up an infield single to Revere and walked Mauer.
Aceves entered and gave up a sacrifice fly to Justin Morneau, the first batter he faced, tying the score at 2. But Aceves retired the next two batters, limiting the damage.
“We had one great job by Aceves in the eighth and then leakage in the ninth,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “Andrew Miller has been terrific vs. left-handers and just flying open a little too much. Didn’t have command of the strike zone.”
In the bottom of the inning, pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco took the second pitch from Twins right-hander Glen Perkins and drilled it into the seats in left field, giving the Red Sox a one-run lead. The Sox added another run in the inning, taking a 4-2 lead into the ninth.
Alex Burnett earned the win, improving to 4-3. Jared Burton pitched a scoreless ninth, posting his fifth save. Aceves was charged with a blown save, his sixth, and the loss, falling to 2-7.
While both starters had impressive outings, neither was involved in the decision. De Vries went seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts and a home run. Buchholz went seven innings, giving up one unearned run on seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
“It’s not about me getting a win,” Buchholz said. “It’s about the team win. Things happen where one-run leads, they just don’t hold up all the time.”
Josh Beckett, who left his Tuesday start against the Tigers because of a back spasm with two outs in the third inning and was scratched from his scheduled Sunday start, could start Wednesday in the Red Sox’s homestand finale against the Texas Rangers, manager Bobby Valentine said. … Jacoby Ellsbury was in the original lineup posted for Saturday’s game but was scratched because he is dealing with a leg ailment, Valentine said. Kalish took his place in center field and in the lineup, batting leadoff. Kalish has hit leadoff just three other times at the major-league level, all in 2010, going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. …Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was not in the starting lineup, getting a day off. … Designated hitter David Ortiz, on the disabled list since July 17 with a strained right Achilles’ tendon, is progressing, but there is still no schedule for a return to the Boston lineup…By the fifth inning, Buchholz had committed two errors, both on pickoff attempts at first base. Buchholz entered the game with just one error this season. In 2011 and 2012, spanning 32 previous starts, he had committed just two errors. … Twins outfielder Josh Willingham served as the designated hitter for the first two games of the four-game series in Boston. He was not in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game. Gardenhire said it was just a day off. …Twins right-hander Carl Pavano, on the disabled list since June 2 with right rotator cuff weakness, is scheduled to pitch two innings in a rehab appearance Tuesday for the Gulf Coast League team. ….P.J. Walters, on the DL since June 2 with right shoulder inflammation, was scheduled to pitch for triple-A Rochester in Toledo on Saturday night…Trevor Plouffe has missed 13 games with a bruised right thumb. He started swinging Friday at Target Field but still felt some discomfort…Minor-league pitcher Lester Oliveros has bone chips in his right shoulder and will undergo surgery in the near future. ... Adrian Gonzalez has reached base safely in 11 straight games…Ben Revere went 3-for-5, extending his career-high hit streak to 18 games.
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