Red Sox 3, Twins 2(10)

Will Middlebrooks gave Boston a comeback victory the night

before with a big swing. This time, he dropped down a bunt to

advance the go-ahead run.

After losing 93 games last season, the Red Sox aren’t worried

about style. A win is a win.

Jonny Gomes hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to lift the

Red Sox past the Minnesota Twins 3-2 on Friday night.

”We don’t want to be the heart-attack kids, but it’s a good

character check for us right away,” Gomes said.

The Red Sox have won three straight after losing 10 of their

previous 14 games, while the Twins have dropped three in a row

after winning six of nine.

Twins reliever Josh Roenicke (1-1) gave up a single and a walk

to open the 10th. After the sacrifice by Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew

was intentionally walked to load the bases. Then Gomes sent a drive

to center field, where Aaron Hicks caught the ball but

double-clutched on his throw after bumping into left fielder

Oswaldo Arcia. Hicks didn’t have a chance to get the speedy Dustin

Pedroia.

”I would have liked to have seen Hicks come up clean with that

one and have a shot at throwing him out,” Twins manager Ron

Gardenhire said.

At Tampa Bay on Thursday, Middlebrooks hit a three-run double in

the ninth to give Boston a 4-3 victory. The only prior sacrifice of

the second-year third baseman’s entire professional career came in

2008 for Class-A Lowell, but manager John Farrell didn’t hesitate

to call for the bunt.

”He’s a very good athlete. He’s got good hand-eye

coordination,” Farrell said. ”Knowing that it wasn’t part of his

game as an offensive player, still I thought the game situation

called for it. And he executed it perfectly.”

Alex Wilson (1-0) picked up the victory by getting the last out

of the ninth and Koji Uehara threw a perfect 10th for his first

save, with closers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey both on the

disabled list.

Yes, the Red Sox relievers had a big hand in this, too, after

Clay Buchholz recovered from an early two-run homer by Pedro

Florimon, just the second time the right-hander was taken deep this

season.

Buchholz walked three, including one in the fifth while the

Twins loaded the bases with one out. But struggling slugger Josh

Willingham took a called third strike, and Justin Morneau flied out

to left field at medium depth. Morneau’s 11-game hitting streak

ended.

Starting with Willingham, the Red Sox retired 17 straight

batters to finish the game.

”We’ve got a good staff. That’s really what it comes down to,”

said Buchholz, who struck out nine batters over seven innings,

including five in a row spanning the first and second frames. He

was stuck with a no-decision for the third straight start and

couldn’t match Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore with the second 7-0 record in

the majors this year.

Buchholz’s ERA, second-lowest among American League qualifiers,

actually rose nine points to 1.78.

”Buch’s throwing the ball really well. I just want to pick up

wherever he leaves off,” said Andrew Miller, who struck out three

and went five up and five down.

Florimon also had a hand in three double plays induced over six

innings by Twins starter Vance Worley, who gave up just one

unearned run on David Ortiz’s RBI single. The shortstop made a

slick pivot and quick throw to end the third and the fifth on

grounders hit by Pedroia.

Florimon had a chance to start a fourth, with Brian Duensing

pitching in the seventh, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s sharp bouncer

glanced off his glove as he tried to make a sliding stop. The ball

rolled into center field for a single, and Gomes – who led off with

a walk – scored to tie the game at 2.

With Joe Mauer and his 14-game hitting streak on the bench

because of a stiff back, the Twins had only two players in the

lineup entering the game with a batting average better than

Florimon’s .247. But Trevor Plouffe doubled off the wall to start

the third, and with one out Florimon drove a first-pitch curveball

just inside the foul pole and just over the right-field wall to put

the Twins up 2-1.

Buchholz has finished seven innings in all but one of his nine

starts this year, against the Twins at home two weeks ago, and

allowed more than two runs in only one turn, also in that game when

the Twins scored four times against him. Buchholz’s last home run

surrendered was in his first start on April 3.

”Team wins. That’s what this game’s about. There’s absolutely

no disappointment,” he said.

NOTES: Morneau, whose 17 RBIs are the most in the majors in May,

dropped to 6 for 8 with 13 RBIs with the bases loaded this season.

… Red Sox backup catcher David Ross, on the 7-day DL due to

post-concussion symptoms, had an exam pushed back until Monday. He

is still light-headed and fatigued. … The Red Sox will send RH

Ryan Dempster (2-4, 3.75 ERA) to the mound on Saturday, opposite LH

Scott Diamond (3-3, 4.08 ERA) of the Twins. Both of them gave up

six runs and took the loss in their last start.