BOSTON – The Minnesota Twins are heading home with a three-game winning streak. Doing it against the Boston Red Sox makes it more impressive.
The Red Sox had the best record in the majors after they beat the Twins in the series opener. But after losing 5-3 in Thursday night’s finale, they dropped out of first place in the AL East for the first time this season.
“It’s important that you kind of get that feeling about grinding things out (at) the end of a long road trip,” Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire said. “These guys really stayed focused.”
Oswaldo Arcia hit a two-run homer and the Twins capitalized on a costly throwing error by Boston starter John Lackey to beat the Red Sox, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Boston won the opening game of the series 6-5 in 11 innings Monday night. Then Minnesota came back to end the trip at 5-5.
“To lose that first one, we could have very easily won that one, too,” Minnesota starter Kevin Correia said. “So to come back and win three is huge.”
The Twins were 41/2 games out of first place in the AL Central when they arrived in Boston. They left trailing by 21/2.
The Red Sox started the series with a 11/2-game lead over New York and Baltimore. They ended it percentage points behind the Yankees and tied with the Orioles for second.
“I don’t think anybody is worried about the last seven games,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “It is the big leagues and everybody is good.”
Lackey was pitching well until his wild throw to second base on a potential inning-ending double play gave the Twins another chance in the sixth and they responded with four unearned runs, including two on Arcia’s homer, to take a 5-2 lead.
“I have to make that one play and we win the game,” Lackey said. “One play ruined it all.”
Correia (4-2) pitched 51/3 innings, his second-shortest outing in seven starts this season. Then Brian Duensing got out of a sixth-inning jam and Gardenhire kept him in for the seventh. He finished with 12/3 hitless innings.
“I appreciate the confidence” Gardenhire showed, Duensing said. “These are the type of situations you want to be in as a reliever.”
Jared Burton struck out the side in the eighth. Glen Perkins struck out two more in the ninth and got his eighth save in eight chances.
Lackey (1-3) pitched well until his error, then came back to pitch a perfect seventh before Koji Uehara took over in the eighth. Lackey allowed six hits and one walk, and struck out eight. The Red Sox finished with 11 strikeouts, the 21st time in 35 games they’ve had at least 10.
Boston threatened with one out in the eighth when Daniel Nava walked and Will Middlebrooks reached first when shortstop Eduardo Escobar bobbled his grounder. It was the Twins’ first error in 12 games. But Burton struck out Stephen Drew and Mike Carp.
Trailing 2-1, the Twins went ahead to stay in the sixth.
The inning began with a single by Joe Mauer. He took second on a one-out walk to Justin Morneau before Lackey flubbed a chance to get out of trouble. Trevor Plouffe grounded the ball back to the mound, but Lackey threw wildly past Pedroia into center field. Mauer scored on the play, tying the game.
“You’re looking for breaks in the game,” Gardenhire said, “and that was a break for us.”
Ryan Doumit’s sacrifice fly gave Minnesota the lead before Arcia hit the next pitch into the right-field seats for his third homer of the season.