Red Sox-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox got a day off to forget a major meltdown.

The Red Sox hope to end their five-game slide as they begin a seven-game trip Monday night with the first of three against the Minnesota Twins.

Boston (4-10) blew a nine-run lead in Saturday's 15-9 loss to the Yankees, with 14 runs charged to manager Bobby Valentine's beleaguered bullpen. Red Sox relievers have an 8.44 ERA for the worst mark in baseball.

Daniel Bard, scheduled to start Sunday's series finale that was postponed by rain, will have his turn in the rotation skipped and is being temporarily sent to the bullpen.

"Got to consider everything," Valentine said. "They're my guys."

Jon Lester (0-2, 5.82 ERA) will start Monday's opener but didn't make things easy on the bullpen his last time out. He was charged with seven runs over two-plus innings in Tuesday's 18-3 loss to Texas.

The left-hander is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in six career starts against Minnesota (5-11), posting a 5.84 ERA and issuing eight walks over 12 1-3 innings in dropping both outings at Target Field.

Valentine said his last-place club hit bottom after Saturday's defeat. A day later, he expressed more confidence.

"When you're 4-10, it's not easy to say that everything is going perfectly," he said. "But I think they're good players, high quality, and we're going to win a lot of games."

The manager has a new player available with Marlon Byrd, acquired from the Cubs on Saturday, set to join the team. Byrd went 3 for 43 this year for Chicago, but the Red Sox outfield is hampered by injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.

"He isn't hitting right now; that's the good news," Valentine said, "which means he's saved up all his hits for us, which is a good thing for him to do."

The Twins are 3-4 during a 10-game stretch against the AL East, dropping two of three in Tampa Bay over the weekend. They were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position in Sunday's 6-2 defeat and finished the series 4 for 27.

"We had one big hit, obviously not enough big hits," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Just a rough day for us."

Justin Morneau went 1 for 7 against the Rays after a big series against the Yankees in which he was 5 for 11 with three homers.

Jason Marquis (1-0, 7.20) makes his first home start after a winning season debut Wednesday as he gave up four runs over five innings in a 6-5 victory over the Yankees.

The right-hander started his season late because his oldest child, Reese, was seriously hurt in a bicycle accident during spring training. She was released from the hospital on opening day and watched her father pitch last week after doctors wondered whether she would survive due to injuries that included a lacerated kidney.

"Lots of players have hardships in their careers," Marquis said. "The challenge is to step onto the field and learn to try to separate it - go out there and play a kid's game."

The right-hander hasn't faced the Red Sox since 2002. Adrian Gonzalez, who hit .379 against the Twins a year ago, is 6 for 19 with three doubles against him.

Boston went 5-2 last season against Minnesota.

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