Dice-K, Red Sox set record for wild pitches, fall to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Growing up in Scarborough, Ontario, George Kottaras was one of the few youngsters in his neighborhood who didn't play hockey.

After chasing pitch after pitch in the dirt and absorbing a collision at home plate on Wednesday night, the Boston catcher now knows exactly what it feels like.

Daisuke Matsuzaka and the rest of the Red Sox righties tied a modern-day record with six wild pitches while Twins starter Kevin Slowey was the picture of control in Minnesota's 4-2 victory over Boston.

Matsuzaka (0-3) tied a franchise record set 80 years ago with four wild pitches, while relievers Manny Delcarmen and Justin Masterson also sent Kottaras scrambling. It was just the fifth time since 1900 that a team threw six wild pitches in a game.

"A lot going on around the dirt area," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "George's Canadian background came into play there. He looked like a goalie at times. There were a lot of balls bouncing."

Slowey (7-1) gave up two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and just one walk in six innings.

Speedy Denard Span had four hits, a walk and two runs scored for the Twins. Five of the wild pitches came with him on base.

Matsuzaka was all over the place in his second start off the disabled list. He gave up three runs on nine hits in five innings with three walks and six strikeouts. He became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw four wild pitches in a game since Milt Gaston on Sept. 14, 1929.

This was the first time Kottaras, who is the normal catcher for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, was behind the plate for a start by Matsuzaka.

"There were cases out there today that our signs didn't match up all the time or our timing didn't match up," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "All that comes from experience. I think I needed to take more of a leadership role out there with respect to working with Kottaras today."

Matsuzaka was even wild during warmups. When he came out in the fifth inning, he bounced one in front of first baseman Jeff Bailey, who was filling in while Kottaras got his gear on.

His relievers weren't much better. When Masterson wasn't bouncing pitches in the dirt, he was hitting Twins batters. The lanky right-hander plunked Michael Cuddyer with the bases loaded in the sixth to score Span and give the Twins a 4-2 lead.

It was a rough day all around for the young catcher, who went 0-for-4, had a throwing error in the third that allowed Span to score, but also gritted his teeth and held on to the ball when he was run over at the plate by Carlos Gomez in the seventh.

"That's just part of the gig," Kottaras said. "After a game you should be exhausted. I'm going to leave it all on the field and do whatever I can to help the team win. We just didn't come out on top tonight."

Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 22 games and Jason Bay hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, snapping a string of 11 straight home runs that came with runners on base. That was one short of the major league record.

Jason Kubel had two hits, two walks and an RBI and Joe Mauer had a single and a sacrifice fly for the Twins.

Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier threw two innings of hitless relief to set up Joe Nathan's eighth save.

"There were some tough pitches, a lot of curveballs and sliders in the dirt," Span said. "That's a big reason why we were able to come out on top."

Boston's slumping slugger, David Ortiz, batted sixth again and continued to look slow with the stick. He struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat, the last an 89 mph fastball that Slowey left up and over the middle of the plate.

Big Papi hit one to the warning track in center field in the sixth, then walked to the dugout shaking his head. He finished 0 for 4 to drop his average to .193.

Game notes
The California Angels were the last team to throw six wild pitches in a game, against Minnesota on April 13, 1991. ... Twins 3B Joe Crede said his bruised hand felt better on Wednesday and he expected to be back in the lineup on Thursday. ... Normally sure-handed Twins SS Nick Punto had an error for the second game in a row. His fifth error of the season came in the first inning when he overthrew Justin Morneau at 1B, allowing Dustin Pedroia to get to second. ... Pedroia singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Twins LF Delmon Young snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a sharply hit single in the second inning.