Twins denied sweep at Fenway

Ninth-inning rally falls just short for Minnesota
Twins denied sweep at Fenway

Minnesota’s magic couldn’t last another day.

Less than 24 hours after pulling out an improbable win, the Twins scored three times in the ninth inning Sunday but came up short, falling 6-4 to the Boston Red Sox.

All in all, though, it was a successful trip for Minnesota, which took three of four at Fenway Park.

“The fact that we didn’t just lay over and die right there, too, kept fighting and got back to pretty close. I thought we had a decent chance there in the ninth,” said Twins starter Nick Blackburn, who allowed four runs on nine hits over five innings. “Obviously, it’s very late in the season, but we’re not just laying down and shutting it off, which is good to see.”

The Twins followed a two-hit shutout on Thursday with a pair of dramatic wins over the Red Sox.

They erased a four-run deficit before winning in 10 innings Friday and then delivered an even more exciting encore Saturday. With two outs and two strikes in the top of the ninth, Joe Mauer deposited a full-count pitch from Boston closer Alfredo Aceves into the seats above the Green Monster, handing the Red Sox a heartbreaking 6-4 setback.

The Twins were growing accustomed to these late-game heroics.

Not this time, though.

Josh Willingham started Sunday’s ninth-inning rally with a solo home run off Vicente Padilla, his 28th of the season. After a walk to Justin Morneau, Padilla served up a two-run homer to Ryan Doumit, bringing the Twins within two.

But Aceves came in and atoned for his rough outing a day earlier, retiring the final three batters for his 23rd save and helping the Red Sox snap a four-game skid.

“We’re not going to quit. I can guarantee you that,” said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. “These guys are in it until the last out. That’s the feeling you want to have on the bench and right now we have that feeling going on pretty good.”

Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and Franklin Morales turned in another solid substitute start for Boston.

Gonzalez finished with three RBIs. Carl Crawford added three singles, an RBI, and a leaping catch for the Red Sox on his 31st birthday.

Ben Revere extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games with a single, drove in a run, and made a splendid over-the-shoulder catch for Minnesota.

Revere’s hitting streak is the longest by a Twins’ player since Torii Hunter had a 23-game one in 2007.

Morales (3-2), taking Josh Beckett’s turn in the rotation after the right-hander left his previous start with a back spasm, gave up one run on three hits in six innings.

The Red Sox hadn’t been swept in a four-game series at home by Minnesota since 1991.

Morales has given up two runs or fewer in five of his six starts this season.

Leading 2-1 with two outs in the fifth, Gonzalez hit a drive into seats above the Green Monster off starter Blackburn (4-7) after Crawford singled.

Cody Ross’ RBI single made it 5-1 in the seventh. Jacoby Ellsbury added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Blackburn’s road woes continued, dropping to 17-35 in career road starts.

Revere robbed Jarrod Saltalamacchia, running full speed to the center-field wall to make the grab on the track and then turning to throw to second to complete a double play.

Boston had jumped in front 2-0 with a pair of runs in the third. Crawford had an run-scoring grounder after Mike Aviles singled and Ellsbury doubled. Gonzalez followed with an RBI single.

Minnesota cut it to 2-1 in the fifth on Revere’s sacrifice fly. Alexi Casilla walked, stole second, and advanced on Jamey Carroll’s ground out.

Crawford, who wore his uniform pants high with his bright red socks showing nearly to his knees, robbed Doumit with his second-inning catch at the wall.

The two clubs have played seven four-game sets in Fenway since the last time the Twins swept a four-game series.

NOTES: During the game the Red Sox acquired Twins 3B Danny Valencia for Class A outfielder Jeremias Pineda. The 27-year old Valencia hit .198 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 34 games with Minnesota this season. He was assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Pineda is hitting .421 in 36 Gulf Coast League games. … OF Willingham was back in the starting lineup after resting Saturday with a right-hander going for Boston. … Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said “everything is on track” for Beckett to start Wednesday against Texas. … Boston CF and leadoff hitter Ellsbury returned to the starting lineup after resting what Valentine called a minor leg injury Saturday. … Red Sox righty Aaron Cook (2-5) faces Japanese star and Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish (11-7) at Fenway on Monday night.