Sano breaks slump, leads Twins to victory
BOSTON -- Miguel Sano played the unlikely hero Friday night at Fenway Park.
Sano entered the night in an 0-for-9 slump, but collected three hits -- including the decisive RBI double -- as the Minnesota Twins edged the Boston Red Sox 2-1.
“He’s got some hits, but he hasn’t shown the consistency that I think that we were hoping for,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Sano, who hadn’t driven in a run since a three-RBI game July 8 at Texas.
“It’s always good to see him hit the ball up the middle and the other way.”
Brian Dozier added his 17th homer of the year for Minnesota (36-60).
The Twins had 10 hits a night after getting five in a 13-2 blowout loss to the Red Sox in Thursday’s series opener.
Twins starter Kyle Gibson (3-6) tossed eight one-run innings for the victory, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out six.
“I definitely wanted to go back out (for the ninth), but I respect (Paul) a lot,” Gibson said.
Minnesota’s Brandon Kintzler had a rocky ninth, loading the bases with nobody out, but miraculously got out of the jam to post his seventh save of the season.
Mookie Betts reached 20 home runs for the first time in his career for Boston (54-40), which had its season-high-tying seven-game home winning streak snapped.
“Unable to really mount any kind of threat throughout the first eight innings,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
The Red Sox trail the first-place Baltimore Orioles by a half game in the American League East.
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4) had a season-high eight strikeouts but took the loss after giving up two runs, six hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings.
Rodriguez was making his first start at Fenway since June 22 and second overall after a two-game stint with Triple-A Pawtucket to work on his mechanics.
Sano’s one-out double in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie and put a runner on third, but reliever Robbie Ross Jr. notched the final two outs to limit the damage.
Michael Martinez opened the Red Sox’s ninth with an infield single and Dustin Pedroia followed with a single before Xander Bogaerts worked an 11-pitch walk to load the bases.
David Ortiz grounded into a 4-2-3 double play and Hanley Ramirez lined out to right to end the game.
“I’m just thinking get a ground ball,” Gibson said when asked what he was thinking while watching from the dugout as Ortiz step up to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out.
“Anything on the ground that’s to an infielder is going to be a double play. He hustled as much as he could and almost beat it out.”
“You know what? Their pitcher made good pitches,” Ortiz admitted. “That’s the name of the game. Made a good pitch, got himself out of the situation.”
Betts’ blast sailed over the Green Monster in left field on the second pitch of the Boston first, giving him leadoff shots in back-to-back games.
“We’re improving; it took two pitches to fall behind tonight instead of one,” Molitor said tongue-in-cheek.
It was Betts’ seventh career leadoff homer and fifth of 2016, giving the Red Sox at least one home run in 13 consecutive games since July 4.
Boston homered in 22 straight games from April 29 to May 22.
Dozier dinged the Think Energy sign above the Monster on a 2-1 pitch in the Minnesota second to tie the score.
Betts was removed from the game in the top of the fifth with right knee soreness and is day to day. He was replaced in right field by Martinez.
“We wouldn’t take any risks with Mookie certainly,” Farrell said.
NOTES: Boston activated RHP Junichi Tazawa from the 15-day disabled list and optioned RHP Noe Ramirez to Triple-A Pawtucket. Tazawa missed 12 games with a right shoulder impingement. ... Minnesota C Kurt Suzuki (rest) wasn’t in the lineup. “He’s always banged up,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. Suzuki should return Saturday. ... Red Sox RHP Koji Uehara (right pectoral strain) received a platelet-rich plasma injection Friday. “That is going to require a little bit of down time to recover from that,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. Uehara went on the DL Wednesday. ... Twins INF Trevor Plouffe (fractured left rib) is throwing from 90 feet and doing light running at Target Field. ... Minnesota RF Max Kepler’s mother Kathy and sister Emma watched him play for the first time Thursday at Fenway Park. ... Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.02 ERA) counters Red Sox LHP Price (9-7, 4.36) on Saturday.