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Ross Rescues Red Sox

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Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins

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By DAVE CAMPBELL   AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Cody Ross homered twice, tying the game with
a two-run shot in the seventh inning and giving Boston the lead
with two outs in the ninth to snap a five-game losing streak for
the Red Sox and beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 on Monday night.

Starter-turned-temporary-reliever Daniel Bard (1-2) recorded two
critical outs in the eighth after the Twins put the leadoff runner
on third. Alfredo Aceves picked up the save, his third in five
tries, and all was right with the reeling Red Sox for at least one
night.

Aceves gave up a one-out single and a high drive to the warning
track in left-center to Trevor Plouffe, but Denard Span bounced
back to the mound to end it.

Ryan Sweeney misplayed Jamey Carroll’s single into a two-base
error that put him at third with none out in that pivotal eighth,
after the ball bounded down the right-field line, ricocheted off
the padded facade of the seats in foul territory and skidded away.

But Franklin Morales got Joe Mauer to ground out weakly to first
base, and Bard retired two of the three batters he faced sandwiched
around an intentional walk to Justin Morneau. Josh Willingham
greeted Bard with a sharp line drive, but it zipped straight at
third baseman Adrian Gonzalez for the second out.

Then Ross put the Red Sox in front with his drive off Matt Capps
(0-1).

After a rainout on Sunday gave the rotation an extra day of
rest, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine put Bard in his struggling
bullpen for a few days amid fan calls for the young right-hander to
take over for Aceves as the closer. But Bard and Valentine insisted
the move was merely temporary, and Bard is still on track to make
his next start on Friday.
“I still view myself as a starter, and they said they do,
too,” Bard said before the game. He said he “asked a lot of
questions” about what the team’s goals were with the decision.

Bard gave the relievers some relief, but the starters still need
some, too. Jon Lester allowed six hits, five runs and four walks
over seven innings. He struck out four but wasted a 3-0 lead.
Danny Valencia’s two-run homer, his first of the season,
followed Ryan Doumit’s two-run double in a four-run fourth for the
Twins. Then Plouffe drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, Span singled
and a run scored when Carroll grounded into a double play.

Carroll got the Red Sox back for that in the sixth. With one out
and runners at the corners, he dived to stop a grounder by David
Ortiz up the middle and flipped to the second baseman Plouffe from
his stomach with one hand. Then Plouffe whirled around for a
perfect relay throw to finish the double play.

The Twins have more modest expectations than do the Red Sox for
this season after last year’s 63-99 mess. Their starting pitching
has emerged as a significant concern if it wasn’t already this
spring.

The rotation has a collective 2-9 record with a 6.46 ERA, last
in the major leagues, with 114 hits allowed in 92 innings with only
53 strikeouts.

Gonzalez followed a pair of singles with a sacrifice fly in the
first, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia smacked a 0-2 slider into the
front part of the section of right-field seats that juts out and
hangs above the warning track to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead in the
second.

Then after the Twins surged ahead in the fourth, pulled away in
the fifth and preserved the two-run edge thanks to Carroll’s slick
play at shortstop, Marquis gave the game back to the Red Sox on
that two-run drive by Ross that soared high above left field and
into the seats.

NOTES: Red Sox RH Daisuke Matsuzaka’s rehab start for Class A
Salem, his first real game since undergoing reconstructive elbow
surgery last June, was rough. He gave up six hits, three runs and
two homers in four innings. … CF Marlon Byrd, who went 3 for 43
with the Cubs before being traded Saturday, had a single in his Red
Sox debut. … Red Sox IF Nick Punto, who spent seven seasons with
the Twins through 2010, checked out the visitor’s clubhouse at
Target Field for the first time. But he was more impressed by what
he saw on the other side. “It’s cool to see both Mauer and Morneau
healthy. Without those guys, it’s tough to win,” Punto said. …
Morneau played 1B for just the second game this year. He’s been the
DH 14 times. … With sputtering LH Francisco Liriano taken out of
the rotation for his next turn, the Twins want him to relax. “Let
him take a step back,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. Liriano will
start again May 1 after a couple of bullpen sessions and talks with
pitching coach Rick Anderson. … Willingham will miss Wednesday’s
game to be with his wife, who is about to have a baby. He could be
gone through Friday, too, but the Twins will put him on paternity
leave and be able to call up a minor-league replacement while he’s
away.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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