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Red Sox Widen AL East lead

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Drew Butera, David Ortiz

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By JON KRAWCZYNSKI   AP Baseball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Darnell McDonald hit a two-run homer into the
upper deck in left field to help the Boston Red Sox defeat the
Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Tuesday night.

David Ortiz gave the Sox the lead for good on an infield single
with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and Jonathan Papelbon
picked up his 26th save.

Erik Bedard gave up two runs on three hits with six strikeouts
in five innings in his second start since coming to Boston in a
trade with Seattle.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka had a double and an RBI for the Twins, who
lost their sixth straight game. Francisco Liriano walked a
career-high seven and allowed three runs on four hits with four
strikeouts in six innings.

Matt Albers (4-3) gave up one run in one inning of relief for
the win, helping the Red Sox move to 21/2 games up on the Yankees in
the AL East after New York lost at home to the Angels.
Matt Capps (3-6) took the loss for the Twins after giving up one
run on one hit and walking two in one inning. Minnesota’s pitchers
walked nine and its hitters whiffed 10 times in the game.

In an odd twist of events, the game featured two unexpected
power surges from a pair of light hitters, and a nubber from the
biggest man in the ballpark that proved to be the biggest hits in
the game.

McDonald, who entered the game hitting .165 with three homers on
the season, got a hanging slider from Liriano that he put into the
upper deck in left field to tie the game 2-2 in the fifth inning.
Nishioka was hitting just .215 with just four extra-base hits
and 14 RBIs this season when the day started. He struck out in his
first two at-bats before sending a pitch from Matt Albers high off
the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field for an RBI double
that tied the game 3-3 in the sixth.

The Red Sox reclaimed the lead in the seventh when they loaded
the bases for Ortiz. The big lefty hit a dribbler up the first
baseline, but Twins lefty Phil Dumatrait fell flat on his face as
he bent down to pick up the ball, and everyone was safe on a play
that was ruled an infield single.

The free-swinging Twins had just one walk in their previous 182
plate appearances when they stepped to the plate in the first
inning against Bedard. But they walked four times in their two-run
first, including a bases loaded free pass to Delmon Young, who had
walked 15 times in 314 plate appearances this season.

Bedard settled down after that 37-pitch first inning, keeping
the Twins off the board with just two hits over his final four
innings.

NOTES: Twins DH Jim Thome walked for the 1,708th time in his
career in the first inning, tying him with Mel Ott for eighth on
baseball’s career list. … Red Sox manager Terry Francona said
reliever Bobby Jenks, who is on the disabled list with a back
injury, was released from the hospital on Tuesday after spending a
few days there because of an illness. … Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia
walked three times. … The Twins placed RHP Scott Baker on the DL
with a strained right elbow. … Twins CF Denard Span got a rare
day off after starting the home stand 0-for-12. Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said Span was still getting his timing down after being
out with a concussion. … LHP Jon Lester (11-5, 3.23) takes the
mound for the Red Sox in the series finale on Wednesday night
against RHP Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.58). Lester’s 6.61 ERA in three
career starts in Minnesota is his second-highest in a visiting AL
city next to Kansas City (7.20). … Had Baker not been placed on
the disabled list, Blackburn may have been pitching for his job. In
his last eight starts, Blackburn is 3-5 with an 8.15 ERA and 65
hits allowed in 38 2-3 innings.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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