Twins 4, Red Sox 3

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Manager Ron Gardenhire and the Twins are starting to see the signs of a turnaround. They just hope it’s not too late.

Reliever Mike Timlin threw wildly to first base on a sacrifice attempt in the ninth—Boston’s second throwing error in the inning—allowing Minnesota to score the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday night.

“Tonight I felt like something was going to give here,” Gardenhire said. “Confidence and momentum are huge in baseball and hopefully we have it on our side now.”

Michael Cuddyer led off the ninth with an infield single off Timlin (4-2), but third baseman Bill Mueller bounced his throw past first allowing Cuddyer to move to second. Nick Punto bunted the next pitch back to Timlin, who also fired his throw wide of first base.

“I threw it away, I lost the game,” Timlin said. “There’s no excuse—no bad grip, no foot slippage.”

Joe Nathan (4-3) pitched a perfect ninth for the victory and Joe Mauer drove in two runs for Minnesota, which won the first two games of the series. The Twins have won only three times in the last 10 games and are six games behind Oakland in the AL wild-card race.

“Hopefully, we’ve turned the page and got the ship in the right direction,” Cuddyer said after the Twins won consecutive games for the first time since July 19-20.

“We still have a lot of fight in the clubhouse and plan on playing in the postseason,” added Punto, who also said this was his first game-winning sacrifice bunt.

Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek each had three hits for Boston, which lost its second straight game after winning eight in a row. The Red Sox maintained a 3 1/2 -game lead over New York in the AL East.

“It’s 162 games and you’re going to have great, OK and all different types of games,” Mueller said. “You don’t want to lose any game in any way.”

Damon extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a broken-bat infield single to lead off the game. Two outs later, Manny Ramirez walked and Varitek followed with an RBI single off Johan Santana to give Boston a 1-0 lead.

Damon singled again in the fifth to drive in Tony Graffanino, who led off the inning with a single and moved to third on Gabe Kapler’s double. Edgar Renteria drove in Kapler with a grounder to make it 3-0.

Boston starter David Wells allowed one hit until the sixth inning, when the Twins broke through for six hits and three runs to tie it. With one out, Juan Castro, Shannon Stewart and Lew Ford singled to load the bases and Mauer followed with a two-run single. Matthew LeCroy’s RBI single tied 3-all.

The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out against reliever Jesse Crain in the seventh, but Ramirez grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.

Damon went 3-for-5 to raise his American League-leading average to .341.

Notes

The Red Sox lost their 10th road series and fell to 8-17 when scoring three or four runs in a game. … Mueller has an error in each of the last three games against the Twins. … Wells did not walk a batter for the third straight game, a span of 19 1-3 innings. … This is the first series victory for the Twins since July 18-20 against Baltimore. … The Twins have won 19 games in their last at-bat, tops in the AL.

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