Red Sox take advantage of slumping Twins pitching to win second straight

Jess Myers, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins' starting pitchers aren't having much fun on the mound these days, and their manager is having even less fun watching them.
The Boston Red Sox feasted on another Twins starter Tuesday, putting on an offensive show and winning 11-2 at Target Field.
Nick Blackburn (0-3) allowed eight hits in three innings. His replacement, Matt Maloney, gave up another eight in less than two innings as the Twins dropped their third in a row.
"Starting pitcher always sets the tone," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It didn't work out for Blacky today. He just never got into the groove. They jumped on him. He never got going. The bullpen came in -- again.
"I think we talked about the 60 innings out of our bullpen to this point of the season's not going to cut it. Our starters have to do a better job of getting deeper into the games, and we've got to get the ball out of those bullpen guys' hands or they're all not going to make it through this year."
The Red Sox got 18 hits, matching their season high, and improved to 2-0 on their seven-game, seven-day road trip. Mike Aviles tied a career best with four hits, including two doubles and a solo home run, and Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-3 with three runs.
"I got a couple pitches to hit, and I was fortunate enough not to miss it," said Aviles, whose team had lost five in a row before the trip to Minnesota. "We had a rough homestand, and it's a matter of plugging away."
Josh Beckett (2-2) labored early but settled down, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out five in six innings. He said controlling his emotions was a key.
"Sometimes I think you can waste too much energy with that stuff," Beckett said after his first-ever start at Target Field. "Today, apparently it helped our guys though because they scored 11 runs."
Minnesota's starting pitchers are now 2-10 for the season and have allowed 122 hits, which is the most in baseball.
"I felt fine out there. My arm felt great," said Blackburn, who had missed his last start due to shoulder soreness and hadn't pitched in 10 days. "I was falling behind hitters and wasn't making pitches when I needed to."
Boston hit Blackburn early and often in the first inning, taking a 3-0 lead when five of their first six batters had hits.
Aviles sent the third pitch of the game to the wall for a double. Two pitches later, he was back in the dugout, as Ryan Sweeney's RBI single brought Aviles home.
David Ortiz added an RBI single in the inning, and Cody Ross' bases-loaded groundout scored another run.
Beckett had his own struggles early, needing 37 pitches to get through the first inning but allowing only one run.
"We had our opportunity, but we didn't come up with a big one," Gardenhire said. "We got one, and you get a guy like Beckett and you have to take advantage of that. Early in the game, we made him throw a lot of pitches. We worked him deep, but then he got settled in and threw three or four innings where he probably threw only 25 to 30 pitches and got deep into the game. That's what a veteran like him can do. You let him off the hook, and there, that's what happens."
After leadoff man Denard Span singled in the bottom of the first and was forced out on a grounder, Beckett walked Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau to give the Twins a run. Beckett traded harsh words with plate umpire Adrian Johnson as he left the field after retiring Ryan Doumit and Danny Valencia to leave the bases loaded.
"He was just missing with some pitches and got a little frustrated possibly, but it really turned up his competitive fluids," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "He wasn't going to be denied the victory. He was terrific."
Boston added two runs in the third, when Blackburn walked Gonzalez, then gave up a 429-foot homer to right by Ortiz. Blackburn was lifted at the end of the third after giving up five runs.
Maloney came on in relief for the Twins and fared no better, as the Red Sox tacked on two in the fourth, including a solo homer by Aviles, and three more in the fifth to lead 10-1.
Minnesota got one back in the fifth. Span doubled but was retired at third on a fielder's choice, with Jamey Carroll reaching second. Willingham's double down the left field line scored Carroll.
NOTES: The first-inning single and third-inning homer by Ortiz gave him 28 hits for the season, which is the most through 16 games in Red Sox history for a left-handed hitter. ... The Twins will call up Ben Revere from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday, when left fielder Josh Willingham will take a paternity leave from the team. Willingham's wife, Ginger, is expecting the couple's third child. ... After starting above .500 after 15 games in 13 consecutive seasons (1997-2009), the Red Sox were sub-.500 after 15 games for the third season in a row.

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