BOSTON -- Just when it appeared as though the Boston Red Sox finally received the break they’ve been desperately looking for, their luck quickly turned as the Minnesota Twins scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning en route to a 6-4 win Saturday night at Fenway Park.
With the loss, the Red Sox’s losing skid increased to four games, the last three defeats coming at the hands of the Twins.
Boston held a 4-2 lead after the bottom of the eighth inning, thanks to a solo, pinch-hit home run by Pedro Ciriaco and an RBI single by Cody Ross. But closer Alfredo Aceves surrendered four runs in the top of the ninth, with a three-run homer by Joe Mauer the final blow.
With the game tied at 2-2, Ciriaco led off the eighth with a solo home run that landed in the Monster seats to give Boston the lead. It was the first career home run for Ciriaco, who came off the bench to hit for Ryan Kalish, who was 0-for-2 with a walk. Ross provided some insurance with an RBI single.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was solid, but had to settle for a no-decision after he allowed one unearned run on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in seven innings of work. He tossed 103 pitches (66 strikes).
After Buchholz retired the side in order in the top of the first, the Red Sox gained a 1-0 lead in the home half on Carl Crawford’s RBI double off the left-center field wall. Kalish, who was a late addition to the lineup because Jacoby Ellsbury is dealing with a sore leg, led off the game with a walk and scored from first on Crawford’s double.
Boston added to its lead with a solo home run by Mike Aviles in the bottom of the second for a 2-0 advantage.
The Twins pushed their first run across in the top of the fifth. With one out, the Twins’ Jamey Carroll singled, then reached second on a throwing error by Buchholz, who attempted to pick off the runner. With two outs, Ben Revere reached on a swinging bunt, and Carroll came around to score on catcher Kelly Shoppach’s throwing error.
The Twins tied the game at 2-2 on a sacrifice fly by Justin Morneau in the top of the eighth before Ciriaco’s heroics in the bottom of the inning gave Boston a brief lead.
A-LIST: Aviles set a career high when he belted his 11th home run of the year, a solo shot into the Monster seats to give Boston a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. His previous mark was 10 homers while playing for the Kansas City Royals in 2008. He also set a career high with 52 RBIs, surpassing his previous mark of 51, also in 2008.
WEB GEM: Prior to starting at third base Saturday night, Red Sox infielder Nick Punto had not played since July 22, a span of 11 games. It didn’t take him long, however, to turn in a defensive gem. With one out and runners on first and second in the second, the Twins’ Brian Dozier lined a shot to the left side of the infield but Punto made a diving catch. That out proved crucial because Buchholz walked the next batter to load the bases before he was able to pitch out of the jam unscathed.
UP NEXT: The Red Sox host the Twins in the series finale on Sunday (1:35 p.m.) at Fenway Park. Left-hander Franklin Morales (2-2, 3.32 ERA) will start for Boston, while righty Nick Blackburn (4-6, 7.43) will get the nod for the Twins.