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Updated: April 23rd, 2012 10:25pm
Wasted opportunity by Twins opens door for Cody Ross, Red Sox in 9th

Wasted opportunity by Twins opens door for Cody Ross, Red Sox in 9th

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- A wasted opportunity late in the game opened the door for the Boston Red Sox to nip the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning, 6-5, to take the first game of a three-game series.

The skinny

The Twins saw a golden opportunity to take the lead slip away in the bottom of the eighth inning when Jamey Carroll was left standing on third base after reaching with nobody out.

Just a few minutes later, Cody Ross took a shin-high fastball by Matt Capps and drove it the other way for a solo home run into the right-field overhang, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead they would not relinquish. The home run was Ross' second of the game and fifth of the season.

"I don't think I've ever seen Cody Ross hit a ball that way," Capps said. "He put it a good swing on it and obviously squared it up well. It won the ballgame for them. ...

"I went back and looked at it. It was right where we wanted it to go. Obviously hindsight is 20/20 so it wasn't the right pitch at that time. But I was actually pretty happy with it. That's where I wanted the pitch to go."

The loss drops the Twins to 5-12.

The Red Sox struck first in the first inning when Adrian Gonzalez's sac fly plated Mike Aviles. Jarrod Saltalamacchia golfed a slider into the right-field overhang in the second inning to make it 3-0.

Ryan Doumit connected on a double down the left-field line with two outs in the fourth to score Joe Mauer from second and Josh Willingham from first.

The next batter, Danny Valencia, blasted a two-run homer -- his first of the season -- into the bullpen in left field to put the Twins up 4-3.

For the second straight start, Marquis allowed runs early and was forced to grind his way through to the middle innings. He managed to hold the Red Sox scoreless from the third through sixth innings.

Having thrown 97 pitches through six frames, Marquis came out for the seventh to face the bottom of Boston's order. But Ross blasted a towering two-run homer into the left-field upper deck to tie the game, 5-5.

After the game, manager Ron Gardenhire had no regrets about leaving Marquis in.

"Your starter, that's what we want, seven innings out of these guys," Gardenhire said. "This guy's a veteran, a 200-inning guy. He wants the ball. He felt fine. He felt great. He made a terrible pitch to Cody. He had such a great sinker all night long. We trusted him."

Marquis was officially charged with five earned runs on 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked nobody.

Red Sox starter Jon Lester allowed five earned runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four in seven innings.

Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves pitched a scoreless ninth to lock down the win for Boston, just two days after allowing five runs to the Yankees without recording an out. Trevor Plouffe did put a charge into an Aceves fastball, but it died on the warning track.

Turning point

With the game tied 5-5, Carroll led off the bottom of the eight inning with a line drive down the right-field line of left-hander Franklin Morales. Right-fielder Ryan Sweeney saw the ball bounce past him off the side wall allowing Carroll to scamper to third base.

Morales came back and got Joe Mauer to bounce weakly to first base for a force out, and right-hander Daniel Bard -- temporarily moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen -- was summoned to face Josh Willingham.

On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Willingham hit a sharp line drive right to third baseman Kevin Youkilis for the second out.

"Bard's tough, he's got great stuff," Gardenhire said. "(Willingham) hit a bullet. That's all you can do, he hit it right at the guy."

After an intentional walk to Justin Morneau, Bard induced a weak pop-up off the bat of Ryan Doumit to end the inning.

"It seems like we're always one big hit away," Doumit said. "I know that I had an opportunity today with Carroll on third there in the eighth. We had a couple opportunities. We just didn't get it done. It's baseball. We're going through a pretty tough patch right now. But I think our offense is good enough that we'll be able to turn this around."

Numbers game

1: Incredible double play turned by the Twins defense to maintain a two-run lead in the sixth inning. With one out and runners on the corners, David Ortiz hit a groundball up the middle. Shortstop Carroll dove to his left to make the stop, then flipped to second baseman Plouffe, who bare-handed the ball on the run, stepped on the bag and threw off-balance to first base to get Ortiz by a step.

"With David up, we were over in the shift," Plouffe said. "Actually the pitch before I motioned to Gardy. I was back, and it was a double play situation. I wasn't really sure where I was supposed to play, not being out there too much. But we came in a little bit, and Jamey made the diving stop and I was running, and we made eye contact and I said, 'Give me the ball, let's do it.' It was a great play -- fun to be a part of. It's fun to play with Jamey out there."

3: GIDPs hit into by the Twins offense, which brings their season total to a league-high 19.

2: Home runs allowed by Capps in his last three outings.

Health report

• 2B Alexi Casilla was scratched from the lineup due to flu-like symptoms.

• RHP Alex Wimmers was placed on the seven-day, Double-A disabled list with a strained flexor tendon. GM Terry Ryan said the team is hopeful this isn't a serious injury.

Overheard

"We wanted this one pretty bad. We battled back from an early deficit, had some guys come up clutch -- Danny with that home run. And we played some good defense out there, and Jason battled. So it was one we wanted for sure. But we've had a few of these games now under our belt where we've been close. Some we've won and some we haven't, and we're looking forward to winning more of them. We're right there."
-- Plouffe

On deck

Tuesday: vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-1, 5.56) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (1-2, 5.03)
Wednesday: vs. Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks (0-0, 3.86) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (1-1, 9.00)
Thursday: Off day

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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