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Twins rally to drop Red Sox back below .500

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- There isn't much chance of the Minnesota Twins rallying to get into the American League's postseason races. After all, being 16 games under .500 on July 19 tends to drop a team into the role of spoiler.

Guess what: The Twins are spoiling.

From July 27-29, Minnesota swept a three-game series from Cleveland, sending the Indians into a tailspin that has seen them lose seven games in a row to fall into also-ran position.

This week, the Twins came into Fenway Park, a place where they had lost 10 of their last 11 games. They were facing a struggling Red Sox team that still has hopes of getting in the wild-card chase.

Two games, two Minnesota victories. And even though the Twins are just 46-60 and still a mile away from contention, they're feeling good about themselves.

"When you play well, you feel that way, and obviously that's been the case," veteran infielder Jamey Carroll said after his RBI single, his fourth hit of the night, in the 10th inning gave the Twins a come-from-behind, 6-5 victory Friday night, their sixth win in the last eight games.

"This is what we've been doing, is kind of keep battling and having good at-bats, and we were able to do that," said Carroll. "They got ahead early (5-1 in the third inning), but we felt like there was plenty of time. We have always seemed to come back and make it close and a lot of times not get over the hump, and it seems like lately we find a way to get a big hit all the time."

The Red Sox, on the other hand, lost their third game in a row and fell back below .500, taking their sixth loss in eight extra-inning games this season. The Twins are 5-2 in extras.

Both teams wasted chances on a steamy night, and the Red Sox built a 5-1 lead when Justin Morneau dropped a foul popup for what would have been the third out of the third inning. Carl Crawford (three hits) hit a three-run homer off Brian Duensing on the next pitch.

"He said that was the most embarrassed he's ever felt on a baseball field," Duensing said of Morneau. "I told him, 'You know what; those things happen.' As a pitcher you've gotta pick up your defense, and I made the wrong pitch. I said we both had a bad experience there, but he got one later in the game, and I told him that was a redeemer, and he just kinda laughed at me."

Duensing worked six innings, allowing five runs (two earned).

Being the player that he is, Morneau, who already had one hit against Felix Doubront, had two more off that lefty and one off lefty Craig Breslow. After a 13-for-98 (.133) start to the season against lefties, he has gone 13-for-24 (.542) against left-handers.

The Red Sox, just 27-31 at home, had the bases loaded and one out in the eighth and couldn't score, as Tyler Robertson and winner Jeff Gray (6-1) escaped, and then had a runner on second and two outs in the ninth and didn't score.

"We had chances. We just didn't come through. That's basically it," said Dustin Pedroia, who flied to right with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth after Jacoby Ellsbury struck out. "They made some good pitches. ... They threw the ball good. It's to their credit, too. It's just tough."

Darin Mastroianni led off the 10th with a double off loser Vicente Padilla (4-1). Brian Dozier attempted to sacrifice, but his foul pop was caught by diving third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Carroll, who also had a walk in the game, then came through with his second winning hit in less than a week. He tied his career high with the four hits.

Jared Burton worked the bottom of the inning (perfect but two loud outs) for his fourth save.

"You want to win games," Duensing said. "If you're spoilers, you're spoilers, but we're playing to win. We're not going to lay down and give the rest of the season up."

The Twins scored four runs in the fifth with the help of some Doubront wildness. A pair of singles and a pair of walks brought one run in before Morneau lofted a two-run single into right-center. Cody Ross then made a fine running catch of a Valencia drive into the right field corner, the sacrifice fly tying the game.

Back-to-back errors by third baseman Valencia and catcher Joe Mauer started the Boston fifth, but Duensing escaped with the help of a double-play grounder.

NOTE: Ben Revere singled off Doubront's body in the first inning, extending his career-high hitting streak to 17 games. But teammate Denard Span went 0-for-6 (including five grounders to second) to end his 11-game streak. ... Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia wasn't at the ballpark because of an ear infection. ... Morneau's two doubles moved him into sixth place on the Twins' all-time list with 253. ... Josh Beckett (back spasm) will not make his Sunday start for Boston, but he hasn't been disabled. ... Mike Aviles (turf toe) returned to the Sox lineup after missing five games. He had two hits and a walk. ... David Ortiz (Achilles) remained on the disabled list but could return Sunday or Monday, when the Red Sox host the Rangers. ... Boston's Clay Buchholz goes for his 10th win when he faces Cole De Vries (2-2) Saturday night. ... The Red Sox honored the club's 2012 Hall of Fame class, including Curt Schilling, Ellis Burks and Marty Barrett, before the game. ... Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe (thumb) is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday but isn't ready.
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