Red Sox 9, Twins 2

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BOSTON (AP)—Less than two weeks after rejoining the Boston Red Sox, Nomar Garciaparra is helping them regain the look of last year’s slugging team.

Garciaparra, sidelined the first 57 games with right Achilles’ tendinitis, hit a grand slam for his first homer of the season in Boston’s 9-2 win over the Minnesota Twins 9-2 on Tuesday night.

“It was nice,” said Garciaparra, who was activated June 9. “We never counted on just one guy. We expect to pick each other up, always.”

David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez each hit a solo homer and drove in two runs, and Johnny Damon doubled twice for the team that set a major league record for slugging percentage last season.

That was plenty for Curt Schilling (9-4), who allowed one run, four hits and no walks in seven innings with five strikeouts.

“As a pitcher, you just kind of sit back and enjoy,” Schilling said. “You’ve got to (do) everything in your power for six innings to keep it tight because this offense is going to break out more times than not.”

Boston led 3-1 before scoring six runs in the seventh. Ortiz drove in the first run of the inning with a double. Then Twins manager Ron Gardenhire ordered Aaron Fultz to walk Ramirez intentionally, loading the bases.

Joe Roa replaced Fultz, and Garciaparra hit Roa’s first pitch into the center-field bleachers for his fifth career grand slam, all at Fenway Park. After returning to the dugout, Garciaparra stood on the steps and waved his cap as the crowd stood and cheered.

“We know he’s a fan favorite here,” Gardenhire said, “so I think the fans should be clapping for me, too, because I made the move.”

Garciaparra wasn’t surprised by the intentional walk to Ramirez, who leads the AL with 19 homers.

“You expect stuff like that,” he said.

With Garciaparra back and Trot Nixon in the lineup again after spending the first 63 games on the disabled list, Boston is starting to regain the form of the team that set a major league record for slugging percentage last year. And AL batting champion Bill Mueller is expected to come off the disabled list before the All-Star break.

“It’s like pick your poison,” Damon said. “We have some of the best 3-4-5 hitters in the league.” Ortiz, Ramirez and Garciaparra went a combined 6-for-13, and Ortiz increased his AL-leading RBIs total to 65.

Garciaparra entered with a .265 batting average in nine games and was hitless in his first three at-bats before his homer.

“We pitched very well for six innings,” Gardenhire said, “and held a very good offensive team in check.”

Schilling didn’t seem to be bothered by the sore right ankle that has plagued him for much of the season and improved to 5-1 in his last six starts. He’s 6-0 at Fenway Park, the first pitcher in the major leagues to win his first six home decisions this season.

He said he took two shots of marcaine to dull the pain in his ankle.

“It doesn’t bother me the nights I pitch,” Schilling said.

Schilling retired the side in order five times. Making his first career start against the Twins, he was coming off a 7-3 loss at Colorado last Wednesday in which he allowed seven runs and walked four.

“We hit some balls hard, but we hit them right at people,” Minnesota’s Doug Mientkiewicz said. “If you ask (Schilling), he didn’t have his best stuff, but he doesn’t need his `A’ game to beat teams.”

Schilling allowed a run in the fifth when Damon lost sight of Matthew LeCroy’s fly ball to center, allowing it to fall behind him for a double.

“It just got lost in the sky. The ball mixes in well that time of night,” Damon said. “If you can’t see it, you can’t catch it.”

Damon helped Schilling with two outstanding one-handed catches in the sixth. He jumped against the center-field wall to grab Cristian Guzman’s drive, then raced into the left-field gap to catch Mientkiewicz’s liner for the second out.

Ortiz homered in the first. Ramirez singled in a run in the third, then made it 3-1 in the sixth against Kyle Lohse (2-5) with his homer. Lohse allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.

Ortiz added an RBI double in the seventh off Fultz. After Garciaparra’s homer, Jason Varitek hit a run-scoring single against Roa for a 9-1 lead.

Alex Prieto hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth off Keith Foulke, who ended thegame by retiring Joe Mauer on a flyout with the bases loaded.


The Red Sox signed RHP Curtis Leskanic, who was released by Kansas City, and optioned LHP Mark Malaska to Triple-A Pawtucket. … For Minnesota, Lew Ford’s hitting streak ended at 13 games and Luis Rivas’ streak at 10. … Boston had its 98th straight sellout crowd, the third-longest in major leaguehistory.

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