Twins 4, Red Sox 3

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Orlando Cabrera made a big impression on his first day in a Red Sox uniform—both good and bad.

Boston’s new shortstop homered in his first at-bat, but his error in the eighth inning allowed the go-ahead run to score and the Minnesota Twins edged the Red Sox 4-3 Sunday.

Cabrera, replacing longtime star Nomar Garciaparra at shortstop, was acquired from Montreal in a four-team deal that sent Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs just before baseball’s trade deadline Saturday.

Johan Santana outpitched Pedro Martinez in a matchup of strikeout artists. Santana (10-6) fanned 12, one more than Martinez, who left after seven innings with a 3-2 lead.

“They were making some balls do a lot of funny things up there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You’d see hitters looking away and rolling their eyes—that’s what pitching’s all about.”

The Twins rallied for two runs against Boston’s bullpen in the eighth. Cristian Guzman and Lew Ford singled off reliever Mike Timlin (4-4), then advanced on a double steal with Justin Morneau at the plate.

Morneau hit a 3-2 pitch from Alan Embree to deep center field, where Gabe Kapler hauled it in on the warning track. Guzman easily scored the tying run on the sacrifice fly, and Ford scampered home when Cabrera kicked Kapler’s relay throw across the infield for an error.

Kapler actually overthrew his first relay man, second baseman Mark Bellhorn, but Cabrera—who joined the team during batting practice Sunday morning— didn’t realize that a secondary cutoff man was in line to retrieve the errant throw.

“I was thinking (Ford) was trying to score,” Cabrera said. “We missed the cut and I saw the play as a loose ball. I went after it, and didn’t see (first baseman David McCarty) behind me. I kicked it with my left foot and it got away.”

Boston manager Terry Francona wrote off the mistake as a communication breakdown that happens when players join new teams.

“It could have been played better, but we’re dealing with a guy who’s been here for an hour,” Francona said. “It’s impossible to go over everything in an hour.”

Manny Ramirez homered for the Red Sox, who fell 9 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East. The AL Central-leading Twins won for the 10th time in 12 games.

Santana (10-6) allowed two hits and walked one in eight innings for the win. He allowed three runs, two earned, and struck out at least 10 for the seventh time in his last nine starts. He’s 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA since the All-Star break.

Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 31 opportunities.

Martinez gave up seven hits and tied Roger Clemens’ club record with his 68th game with 10 or more strikeouts. Though he left with the lead, he’d thrown 101 pitches and was not disappointed that Francona removed him.

“Our plan was for me to pitch 100 or 110 pitches, and that’s where I ended up,” Martinez said. “I could’ve gone nine but I didn’t want to push it, go nine, and lose my next outing.”

The Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning, manufacturing a run without a hit. With one out, Jason Varitek was hit by a pitch. He stole second on the next pitch and advanced to third on catcher Matthew LeCroy’s throwing error. Kevin Millar then delivered the run with a sacrifice fly.

Cabrera started the scoring with a home run in his first at-bat with the Red Sox. He jumped on a hanging slider from Santana and lined a solo homer to left field to put Boston ahead 1-0.

The Twins tied it in the second when Corey Koskie hit a two-out double and scored on LeCroy’s single. Kapler’s throw skipped off the mound and catcher Varitek didn’t have a solid grip when Koskie slammed into him at the plate to jar the ball loose.

Ramirez hit his 28th home run with two outs in the fourth to give Boston a 2-1 lead, but Minnesota tied it again in the sixth on Torii Hunter’s RBI single.

Notes

Cabrera is the eighth player to hit a home run in his first plate appearance with the Red Sox. … Boston slugger David Ortiz dropped his appeal and began serving a five-game suspension. … The Twins and Red Sox drew 113,297 fans to the Metrodome during the weekend, the most to watch a three-game series in Minnesota since the Red Sox came to town in August 2002.

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