After waiting out a three-hour rain delay in the seventh inning, the Boston Red Sox expanded the lead they built before the storm and beat the Minnesota Twins 5-1 at Target Field on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
"This is where we are supposed to win ball games," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Boston is playing well. We played them well at their ballpark. We know they're a very good baseball team, they can swing the bats and they came in here and beat the ball around pretty good. But we've had our opportunities at home here to drive in runs and we didn't get it done. You can't come home here and lose like we did."
The Red Sox were in command from the start, pounding out 11 hits, and Boston starting pitcher John Lackey silenced the Minnesota bats.
"I thought John was very crisp," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He was powerful. I thought he threw some good cutters, particularly to their left-handed hitters to get down underneath their swings.
"(He was) consistent with the stuff he had two starts ago when he faced Minnesota, and, really, the stuff he had in Tampa. He cruised through the first three, four innings with no men on base. Overall, just a solid performance for him."
Lackey (2-4) pitched six strong innings, giving up one hit and one unearned run. He struck out five and hit one batter but didn't issue a walk.
The storms prevented him from completing the game, but he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
"Oh, for sure. If there's no rain, he's in line for a minimum seven, maybe eight innings," Farrell said. "His pitch count was very much under control. He was efficient, and he had a very good outing today."
Andrew Miller came in for Lackey when the game resumed and set down the Twins in order in the seventh. He gave way to Koji Uehara in the eighth, and Uehara gave up two hits and a walk to load the bases, but pitched his way out of the jam with three strikeouts.
Junichi Tazawa pitched around two hits in a scoreless ninth.
"We didn't do much [offensively], Gardenhire said of the team's five hits. "We had that one big chance at the end of the ballgame and couldn't get one in. We've got to start picking up these runs."
Dustin Pedroia's two-run, ninth-inning homer expanded Boston's lead to 5-1. Pedroia, David Ortiz and Daniel Nava each had two hits for the Red Sox.
Trevor Plouffe collected two of Minnesota's five hits.
Twins rookie Pedro Hernandez, who has been up and down in his six starts this season, struggled from the start against the Red Sox lineup. Hernandez (2-1) gave up three runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.
"We need innings (from Hernandez) and we didn't get it -- 105 pitches in four-and-a-third," Gardenhire said. "He managed to keep the score at a place where we had a chance. But it wasn't a great performance by any means. We have to start pitching better. Our bullpen's getting more innings than our starters and that's not good."
Reliever Josh Roenicke kept the Twins in the game. He pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing no hits and walks while striking out two.
The Red Sox jumped in front when Will Middlebrooks connected on a 2-1 pitch to deep right center for a solo shot in the second inning, his eighth of the season.
In the third, Shane Victorino walked and went to third on a Jonny Gomes single. Victorino scored when Pedroia hit a grounder to third baseman Plouffe, who, while trying for a double play, threw the ball into right field.
The Sox scored again in the fifth on three straight singles by Pedroia, Ortiz and Mike Napoli to take a 3-0 lead.
Plouffe broke up Lackey's no-hitter with a leadoff double in the fifth. He scored on a throwing error by Boston shortstop Pedro Ciriaco. It looked like a sure double-play ball that could have ended the inning, but instead it ended the shutout.
NOTES: Frst innings have been brutal for the Twins. They have allowed 43 runs in first innings this season (1.10 per game), which is tops in the majors. ... Red Sox pitchers entered play Sunday ranked second in the major leagues with 404 strikeouts, trailing only the Tigers' 409 K's. Boston fanned 11 Minnesota hitters in the series finale. ... The Twins pitching staff has allowed 10-plus hits in eight straight games.
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