One night after Manny Ramirez connected on a game winning RBI single, the perennial All-Star belted a 2-run homer in Boston’s four run eighth inning to tie the score at 5-5. A few batters late, Brendan Moss delivered a clutch two out RBI single to give the Sox a 6-5 lead that they would hold onto for their second consecutive 1 run victory over the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park.
“We had a terrific inning, a lot of good things happened,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Last night was what we needed, but sometimes you need a home run.”
Ramirez’s homerun was his 17th on the season and his first since June 29th against the Astros. He now has 507 career homeruns which puts him at the 23rd all-time. Next on the list is Mel Ott at 511 career dingers.
The eighth inning magic began with Jacoby Ellsbury doubling down the left field line. Ellsbury finished the game with two hits and also plated two runs. Following the extra base hit, Dustin Pedroia ripped a single up the middle to put runners at the corners with no outs. The hit was also Pedroia’s second of the game, extending his hitting streak to a career high 16 games.
J.D. Drew followed Pedroia with an RBI ground out to second that plated Ellsbury to make the score 5-3. Ramirez then slugged a belt-high fastball into the Monster seats that knotted the score at 5-5.
“I think we were in a really good situation,” Moss said. “Even though we were down by three, we had our leadoff guy coming up in Jacoby, Pedroia, who’s been on fire, J.D. and Manny. I don’t think anybody was surprised to see Manny go deep in that situation, he’s done it so much.”
After a Mike Lowell strike out, Kevin Youkilis crushed a double to deep left center with two outs to set the stage for Moss. With a 1-1 count, Moss slapped a 93 MPH fastball from Matt Gurrier into center field for the game winning RBI.
“It’s a tough loss, one we thought we had,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We made a lot of mistakes, they blooped one to left, blooped one to right and next thing you know Manny hits one into the seats.”
David Aardsma (3-2) relieved starter Jon Lester to record the final two outs in the eighth inning to earn his third victory on the season. Lester had another solid performance allowing five runs on nine hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. Lester’s streak of consecutive shutout innings ended at 12 when the Twins were able to plate three runs off of him in the fourth inning on four hits, led by a Brendan Harris triple that knocked in two runs.
Jonathan Papelbon was again able to record three outs in the ninth inning to preserve the Red Sox victory. He got into a little trouble by allowing a leadoff double to Twins SS Nick Punto in a 12 pitch at-bat but settled down to retire the next three batters. Denard Span sacrificed bunted Punto to third but the Twins were not able to push the tying run across off of Papelbon. Pinch hitter Jason Kubel struck out swinging for the second out of the inning. With two down, Alexi Casilla came to bat with a 15-game hitting streak on the line but grounded out to second finishing the night at 0-3 ending his streak and the game.
“This feels real good,” said Lester who took a no-decision on the night. “We played better than our record showed on the last road trip, but last night was a big win for us and we just continue to battle.”
Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn did all he could for Minnesota pitching 6 2/3 innings allowing only two runs on six hits. He also did not factor into the decision but with the effort, Twins starting pitchers are now 16-1 in their last 23 games with a 2.99 ERA.
In the final game of the series, the Sox will hand the ball to Josh Beckett trying to go for the sweep. Beckett is 8-5 on the season with a 3.70 ERA. Over his last four starts, Beckett has pitched very well allowing only 7 earned runs in 28 innings of work while striking out 22 batters. He’s 4-1 on the year when pitching at Fenway Park.
The Twins will send veteran starter Livan Hernandez to pitch and try to salvage one win in the series. Hernandez boasts a 9-5 record on the year with a 5.18 ERA. He’s 1-2 lifetime against Boston with a 9.00 ERA but did beat them earlier this season in Minnesota’s 7-3 win on May 12th at the Metrodome in Minnesota.
Tomorrow the Sox are off but will welcome the Baltimore Orioles to town for a three game series starting Friday. Clay Buchholtz will make his first start in the big leagues since being placed on the DL in mid May with a broken nail on his pitching hand.
Great Red Sox tickets are still available for all three weekend games.