Winning streak reaches 11 as Twins top Red Sox 5-2

The Twins have heard it over and over during the past two weeks: Winning streaks are nice, but just wait until they play a team that isn't at the bottom of the standings.

Now they have. And the winning streak stands at 11.

Willi Castro doubled and scored the first run, laid down a bunt that Boston blundered into a second run, and the Twins extended their longest winning streak since 2006 with a 5-2 victory over the Red Sox.

Eleven consecutive victories amount to the third-longest streak in Twins' history, tying similar stretches in 2003 and 2006, and one short of a late-1980 streak that ranks as their second-longest. The Twins' record of 15 in a row was set in 1991.

The current run was built on seven wins against the White Sox, who occupy last place in the AL Central, and three against the Angels, who are at the bottom of the AL West.

But Boston, and particularly with starting pitcher Tanner Houck on the mound, is a much more formidable foe: 18-15 now, in the middle of the AL East.

Yet Chris Paddack made sure the streak stayed intact.

Leadoff hitter Jarren Duran led off the game with a hard ground ball that Carlos Correa mishandled for an error, and Rafael Devers followed with a double to create trouble for Paddack right away. But the righthander struck out Tyler O'Neill on a high fastball, retired Willer Abreu on a popup to shortstop, and ended the inning, and Boston's lone threat, by forcing Garrett Cooper to ground out.

No other Red Sox hitter reached second base against Paddack, who recorded six shutout innings on only two hits, striking out six.

The Twins didn't have much better luck against Houck, who entered with a 1.60 ERA, third-best in the American League, but they managed one feat that five of Houck's six previous opponents hadn't: They scored a run in the first six innings.

That came when Castro led off the third inning with a line drive that barely landed on the fair side of the foul line, a double that stretched his own hot streak to a career-high nine straight games with a hit. Two outs later, Edouard Julien hit a perfectly placed ground ball that wound up in left field, scoring Castro with the only run either team would manage through six innings.

But the Twins broke the game open with a four-run seventh, aided by Boston catcher Reese McGuire's ill-advised decision to pick up Castro's sacrifice bunt in front of the plate and throw it to second base. The ball sailed into center field, allowing pinch-runner Austin Martin to score.

A walk loaded the bases and set up the easiest RBI of Julien's career: Red Sox reliever Naoyuki Uwasawa waited too long to deliver a 3-2 pitch, and Julien was awarded first base, forcing home Castro. Ryan Jeffers followed with a double into center field — just the Twins' third hit all season with the bases loaded — to add two more.

Those runs allowed the Twins to weather Boston's two-run eighth-inning rally against Cole Sands and Caleb Thielbar, the latter of whom allowed Devers' two-out, two-run double off the center-field wall.