Red Sox - 000 000 110 - 2 8 0 Twins - 100 001 03x - 5 11 1Terry Francona sent Jon Lester (at 106 pitches) back out to the mound for the eighth inning. The Red Sox had a short pen tonight: Jonathan Papelbon had pitched on each of the last three nights (a total of 37 pitches); Daniel Bard had worked three of the last four days (47 pitches); Matt Albers had thrown 30 pitches last night (and 14 on Sunday); and Franklin Morales had tossed 20 last night (and 12 on Sunday).
So while Alfredo Aceves was warming up, Lester kept going. Aceves had been up the previous inning when Lester gave up two singles and a walk, but wriggled out of trouble, leaving the bases loaded. That might have been a clue that he was tiring...
Lester began the eighth by issuing a full-count walk to Joe Mauer (who had walked and scored in the first and hit an RBI-double in the sixth). Michael Cuddyer grounded out, moving Mauer to second. Then Jim Thome (RBI single in the first) ripped a double to left-center, past Carl Crawford to the wall, and the Twins led 3-2. And Lester's night was finally done (7.1-8-4-5-4, 119).
Aceves came in and was utterly ineffective. He allowed a double (4-2), a four-pitch walk, a single, and another single (5-2). A runner was thrown out at the plate on the second single, so Aceves recorded an out. Only six of Aceves's 15 pitches were strikes (and three of those were the three hits). Andrew Miller took over and after handing out yet another four-pitch walk, he got the third out.
Minnesota, dead last in the AL in drawing walks (and 28th out of 30 MLB teams), had a whopping seven walks in this game.
Blackburn (6.2-6-1-2-4, 108) had allowed 20 runs in 12.1 innings over his previous three starts, but the Red Sox could do little with him. Boston rallied in the seventh (Marco Scutaro singled after a two-out walk and an infield error) and eighth (David Ortiz's 23rd home run), but went in order in the ninth, as Joe Nathan recorded his 255th career save for the Twins, becoming the team's all-time leader.
Mike Aviles singled, doubled, walked, and scored a run. Ortiz singled, homered, walked, and scored a run.
The Yankees beat the Angels 9-3, and are 1.5 GB Boston.
Jon Lester / Nick Blackburn
Dustin Pedroia gets the night off. ... The Red Sox have won 14 of their last 20 games. ... Marco Scutaro has eight hits in his last 11 AB. ... When Jacoby Ellsbury hits his next home run, he will be the first Red Sox player with 20+ home runs and 20+ stolen bases in a season since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.
MFY (2.5 GB): Angels/Yankees at 7 PM.