MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Todd Sears showed up at the Metrodome wondering whether he’d be at Triple-A Rochester by nightfall.
His day ended with four RBIs and his first career homer—off Pedro Martinez, no less.
Sears led Minnesota to a 5-0 victory on Friday over the Boston Red Sox and their ace for the Twins’ ninth win in 10 games.
“The last couple days, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Sears said. “When I came to the field today, I knew there was a chance I could go to Triple-A. That’s how baseball is. You just don’t know.”
Martinez, who hasn’t spoken to the media in nearly a month, may not have been at full strength. He was stretching next to the mound several times during the game, and Red Sox manager Grady Little noticed something “a little out of the ordinary in the fourth inning.
“We’ll check him out tomorrow, find out what’s wrong,” Little said. “It was something down in the groin area. He said he felt fine.”
Martinez (3-2) lasted only five innings, surrendering eight hits, five runs and a walk while striking out four. His ERA rose to 3.15, and the 83 pitches were his lowest total in eight starts this season.
Healthy or not, the Twins were still happy.
“Anytime you go up against Pedro and you get some runs, you feel pretty fortunate,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We know he’s going to be one of the best pitchers in this game for some time. We feel pretty good about ourselves.”
Jacque Jones went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI for the defending AL Central champions, who began the season 10-14 but have since returned to their 2002 form.
Johan Santana, in a spot start for the injured Rick Reed (strained back), pitched five shutout innings against the second-highest scoring team in the majors before LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero and Eddie Guardado finished up the five-hitter.
Santana will return to his long relief role when Reed rejoins the rotation, likely for his next turn.
Gardenhire wanted to keep Santana’s pitch count under control, and the 24-year-old left-hander threw 76 (52 for strikes). He gave up four hits and a walk while striking out three.
Santana (2-0) was excellent last year both out of the bullpen and in the rotation, and he thought he’d get a chance to start this season when Eric Milton had knee surgery.
The Twins signed veteran Kenny Rogers, though, making Santana unhappy he’d be staying in the pen. He doesn’t appear distracted, however, with a 1.30 ERA in 27 2-3 innings.
“I have to do my job,” Santana said. “I’ve been through this before. I know what I have to do. I just want to go out there and help the team to win.”
Martinez struck out 12 in a five-hitter against the Twins last Saturday at Fenway Park, but he gave up seven hits in the first two innings of this game.
“His command wasn’t like it was a week ago,” Little said. “But that would be hard to top.”
Jones and Cristian Guzman opened the bottom of the first with singles, and Sears drove in Jones with one of his own.
In the second, A.J. Pierzynski hit a leadoff double and scored to make it 2-0 on a single by Jones.
Then Sears, who struck out twice last weekend against Martinez, hit a first-pitch fastball 411 feet into the stacks of football seats above right field to put the Twins up 5-0.
“He left that pitch up a little bit,” Sears said. “I went up there with the mindset to just be aggressive.”
Sears had the ball in the clubhouse afterward.
“The whole minute is kind of a blur,” Sears said. “It’s a great feeling,especially when it helps our team win.”
Martinez entered this game 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA in nine previous starts against Minnesota. … The Twins (19-15) are two games off last year’s record after 34 games. … Minnesota 3B Corey Koskie made an impressive leaping snare of Garciaparra’s liner in the third. … Sears—a lanky lefty-hitting first basemen who has 38 at-bats in the majors—was acquired with cash in a July 2000 trade with Colorado for OF Butch Huskey and 2B Todd Walker. Walker battedsecond for Boston on Friday.