Twins’ Pelfrey a tough-luck loser in airtight road tilt

Starter Mike Pelfrey's lone mistake proved to be the difference as Minnesota fell 1-0 on Tuesday at Boston's Fenway Park. Still, he lowered his ERA to 2.59, which is the lowest in Minnesota's rotation.

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Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey and Boston’s Clay Buchholz have locked horns in two pitchers’ duels within the span of a week. Pelfrey had two of his best starts of the year in those two outings opposite Buchholz, but the end results were different.

One week after Pelfrey and the Twins topped Buchholz and the Red Sox at Target Field, it was Buchholz getting the best of Minnesota and the right-hander Pelfrey. Boston’s starter shut down the Twins in eight innings and Pelfrey’s one mistake was the difference as Minnesota fell 1-0 on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

Pelfrey didn’t get any help from the Twins’ offense, which finished with just three singles in the game. So despite another stellar outing from Pelfrey, it amounted to a loss.

"It was well-pitched, obviously, on both sides," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "It was one of those games. We didn’t have many opportunities to get anything on the offensive side."

The first time the Twins faced Buchholz one week ago, they mustered just two runs in 7 1/3 innings. On that day, the two runs were enough — as they would have been Tuesday. That’s because Pelfrey also started in that game and allowed just one run in seven innings, a nearly identical stat line to the one he had in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss.

Pelfrey played with fire several times at Fenway, but it didn’t cost him anything through the first six innings. Boston had runners on second and third with just one out in the second inning before Pelfrey got Xander Bogaerts to ground into a fielder’s choice that took away the lead run at home plate. One batter later, Pelfrey induced a popup by Sandy Leon to get out of the second inning without allowing a run.

Boston again had a runner in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the fifth but Pelfrey worked around the trouble for the second time. He also got a big double play in the sixth inning to keep the game scoreless. With runners on first and second and nobody out, David Ortiz grounded to second baseman Brian Dozier for a double play. Pelfrey then got Hanley Ramirez to fly out to end yet another Red Sox threat.

"He helped himself by getting ground balls a couple of times," Molitor said of Pelfrey. "Dozier made a really nice play. It was a lot of good plays on both sides defensively to limit the amount of opportunities."

After walking the line several times, Pelfrey finally had a hiccup in the seventh. Bogaerts doubled to center with two outs and came around to score two batters later on Rusney Castillo’s single on a 1-2 offering from Pelfrey.

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Pelfrey simply couldn’t get the last out of the inning and it cost him a run and ultimately the game — and maybe some sleep.

"I usually have a hard time sleeping after games, but being 0-2 and two outs and hanging a split is going to kind of eat at me," Pelfrey said. "I’m going to have to take something to go to sleep so I can get up early tomorrow."

Despite the loss — during which he allowed just the one run on six hits with two walks and a strikeout — Pelfrey continued to pitch like one of the Twins’ best starters. He has now had five outings this year in which he’s gone seven innings and allowed two or fewer runs. And he lowered his ERA to 2.59, which is the lowest in Minnesota’s rotation.

Luckily for Pelfrey, he probably won’t have to go toe-to-toe with Buchholz again this season.

"He was obviously on tonight," Pelfrey said of Buchholz. "You tip your cap to him. Any time he’s on like that, it’s going to be tough. Obviously he was. We’ll have to get the next one, because he was pretty good."

FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.

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