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Red Sox Bullpen Hangs On For Win

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 25: Alfredo Aceves #91 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning on April 25, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Red Sox defeated the Twins 7-6. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – APRIL 25: Alfredo Aceves #91 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning on April 25, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Red Sox defeated the Twins 7-6. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

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By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Baseball Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Seeing all the zeroes on the scoreboard the
Boston bullpen put up on Wednesday night against the Minnesota
Twins belied the tension and angst that hung on practically every
pitch.

In the end, the results were all that manager Bobby Valentine
cared to focus on, and understandably so.

Mike Aviles homered and the Red Sox bullpen just barely avoided
another big collapse in a 7-6 victory over the Twins.

Alfredo Aceves struck out Denard Span with the bases loaded in
the ninth inning for his fourth save in six chances as the Red Sox
completed the sweep.

“Well, we got a win,” Valentine said. “That’s what it’s all
about at the end. Three of those innings were clean, zeros. We like
zeros.”

Clean may have been putting it a little generously, especially
in the ninth inning.

Aceves walked Trevor Plouffe, gave up a hit to Ryan Doumit and
hit Alexi Casilla in a tense ninth inning. But he got Span to chase
a pitch up and out of the zone to escape the jam.

Buchholz needed all the cushion he could get, and so did the
Boston bullpen, which entered the night with the worst ERA in the
American League. Buchholz carried a 9.00 ERA into the game, with
his confidence in his changeup shaken and still smarting from
giving up five home runs in a 6-2 loss to the Yankees last week.

Aviles hit a three-run homer in the second inning and the Red
Sox were cruising with a 7-1 lead heading into the sixth. But after
squandering a 9-0 lead to the Yankees on Saturday night, it was no
time to relax.

Buchholz danced in and out of trouble for the first five
innings, stranding eight runners on base before getting knocked out
in the sixth. The right-hander gave up an RBI double to Span and
left after walking Jamey Carroll to load the bases with one out.

“It’s been like that all year,” said the right-hander, who
gave up five runs on 10 hits with three walks and two strikeouts in
5 1-3 innings. “I’ve had two clean innings. It’s a struggle when
you’re out there throwing pitches and guys are putting it in play.
That’s the way it goes. It has to change. It can’t stay like that
all year. I just have to be positive about it.”

Valentine went with righty Scott Atchison to face the lefty
Mauer, who ripped a single back up the middle to score Casilla.
Rookie lefty Justin Thomas came in to face the lefty Justin
Morneau, who hit the first pitch off the wall in right-center field
for a double to make it 7-5.

Thomas then hit Chris Parmelee in the helmet with a pitch. The
crowd grew hushed after the ball slammed off the bill of Parmelee’s
helmet and bounced all the way over to the Red Sox dugout. Parmelee
left the game for precautionary reasons, and the team said he would
be reevaluated on Thursday.

“It was just a fastball up and in, trying to elevate enough to
get it on his hands and it just kind of rode in too much on me,”
Thomas said. “No intention there. I just hope he’s feeling
alright.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire said there were no signs of a concussion
in initial testing, but “it’s early.”

“We’re just lucky the kid’s OK,” Gardenhire said.

Matt Albers then gave up a single to Plouffe to make it 7-6, but
got Sean Burroughs to ground into a double play to end the inning
with Boston still in front.

Vicente Padilla, Franklin Morales and Aceves each pitched an
inning of scoreless relief and the runs surrendered by Thomas and
Albers were charged to Buchholz.

Dustin Pedroia tripled, doubled and singled for the Red Sox.

Joe Mauer had two hits and two RBIs and Anthony Swarzak pitched
three innings of scoreless relief to keep the Twins in the game
after another terrible outing from their starting pitcher.

Liam Hendriks (0-1) gave up seven runs on nine hits and two
walks in four innings.

Cody Ross went 1 for 3 with an RBI for the Red Sox but left the
game early with soreness in his left knee. Valentine said he
expected Ross to be fine for the game Thursday against the White
Sox.

NOTES: Twins slugger Josh Willingham missed the game to attend
the birth of his son, Rogan. Willingham is on three-day paternity
leave. … The Red Sox open a four-game series in Chicago against
the White Sox on Thursday. They send Felix Doubront (0-0, 3.94) to
the mound to face Phil Humber (1-0, 0.63), who is coming off of a
perfect game in his last outing. It’s been a big week for Humber,
who flew home from Oakland to be with his wife for the birth of
their first child. “I hope he’s tired,” Valentine said. … The
Twins have a day off on Thursday before hosting the Kansas City
Royals this weekend. RHP Carl Pavano (1-2, 4.73) will start the
opener on Friday against Royals LHP Danny Duffy (1-2, 3.63).

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

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