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Updated: August 8th, 2011 9:13pm
Twins Daily: Twins show fight, but succumb in late innings to Red Sox

Twins Daily: Twins show fight, but succumb in late innings to Red Sox

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins went punch-for-punch with the best team in the American League on Monday night, but it was a self-inflicted blow by the catcher and a clutch hit by David Ortiz that gave the Boston Red Sox an edge late in their 8-6 win.

The skinny

When Jason Kubel delivered a game-tying, two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning to knot the score 6-6, it appeared as if the Twins might pull out a dramatic win.

But on a night where the Twins seemingly showed more fight and energy than they have in nearly two weeks, it was Ortiz's two-out RBI single off Joe Nathan in the top of the ninth that put the Red Sox up for good. Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with an RBI single as well, for good measure, putting the Sox up 8-6.

"We've seen him do it to a lot of people," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Ortiz's hit. "He's swinging really good right now."

The loss pushed the Twins 13 games under .500 since June 27.

In a 5-5 game with one out in the top of the eighth, and with the heavy-footed Ortiz on third base, pinch-hitter Mike Aviles hit a chopper to Twins' shortstop Matt Tolbert, who came up firing home, but the ball glanced off catcher Joe Mauer's glove and rolled toward the backstop. Ortiz likely would have been thrown out by multiple steps had Mauer hung on, but instead he scored easily to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead.

"We had a play at the plate," Gardenhire said. "Tough play. Ball was coming into the runner, and the whole package. Almost had a shot to get that guy. We had the guy. But a tough play for Joe coming in there."

Disappointing for the Twins, who initially jumped out to a 5-1 lead, then preserved a 5-5 tie in the seventh when Matt Capps induced an inning-ending double play to work out of a bases-loaded jam.

"Well, they're all tough," Gardenhire said of the loss. "We know where we're at. Disappointing, yes. But as I said, as a manager, you're looking for a competitive team that goes out there and battles. Tonight we did that. We lost to a very good baseball team."

Starter Scott Baker's hot streak also officially come to a screeching halt on Monday.

Baker, who later revealed his elbow still bothers him, left after six innings, allowing five earned runs on nine hits -- the most hits he has allowed since June 6, and the most runs he has allowed since May 11. Four of those runs came in the top of the sixth inning.

The Twins jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning courtesy of an RBI single by Kubel, an RBI double by Jim Thome, and a passed ball with two outs that allowed Thome to score from third.

Kubel added a towering solo home run in the fourth, and Mauer an RBI double in the fifth to temporarily put the Twins up 5-1.

Turning point

Facing perhaps the best lineup in baseball, Baker cruised until the sixth inning before things blew up.

Working with a 5-1 lead, Baker gave up a leadoff triple to Carl Crawford to start the inning, and Adrian Gonzalez drove him in with a sac fly to left.

Dustin Pedroia re-ignited the rally with a single, and Ortiz and Saltalamacchia followed with back-to-back moon shots into the right-field seats, tying the game 5-5.

Numbers game

1: Home runs allowed by Baker in his last eight starts dating back to June 8.

2: Home runs allowed by Baker in the sixth inning Monday.

7: Earned runs allowed by Baker over a seven-start stretch from June 11 to July 28.

8: Earned runs allowed by Baker over his last two starts.

1: Runs scored by the Twins in their last 26 innings against the White Sox over the weekend.

3: Runs scored by the Twins in the second inning Monday.

58: Home runs by Ortiz in a Twins uniform from 1997 to 2002.

11: Home runs by Ortiz against the Twins in his career with Boston.

Overheard

"It just kinda stinks right now."
-- Baker, talking about his elbow after the game.

Health report

• 1B Justin Morneau (neck surgery, wrist) went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in his rehab game for Triple-A Rochester on Monday night, playing the entire game at first base. It's possible Morneau could return by early next week.

• INF Alexi Casilla (pulled hamstring) is expected to be activated prior to Friday night's game against the Cleveland Indians.

• RHP Kyle Gibson and RHP Anthony Slama (right elbow soreness) were both checked out by team orthopedists Dr. Dan Buss and Dr. John Steubs on Monday, and both will undergo further diagnostic testing on Tuesday. The Twins will provide another update then. Worst-case scenario, it's possible both could be told they need Tommy John surgery.

On deck

The series continues Tuesday night (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) when left-hander Francisco Liriano (7-9, 5.03) takes on newly acquired right-hander Erik Bedard (4-7, 3.55).

Gardenhire delivered somewhat of a pep talk to Liriano after his last start, as the left-hander -- along with getting hit hard -- was saddled with some bad luck. With the exception of a hot streak following his no-hitter in May, Liriano has suffered through an extremely disappointing season, watching his strikeouts decrease and his walks per nine innings nearly double.

Bedard is set to make his second start since being traded from the Mariners to the Red Sox. He allowed three earned runs on seven hits in five innings, striking out five, walking nobody and throwing only 70 pitches. Bedard missed nearly the entire month of July due to a sprained left knee.

Coming up

• Wednesday: vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.58) vs. LHP Jon Lester (11-5, 3.23).
• Thursday: Off day
• Friday: @ Indians, 6:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.71) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.08).

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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