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Red Sox rally past Twins

By Joe Christensen, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) –

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins and Red Sox, two teams desperate for a victory, locked horns on Monday night in a game that was filled with emotional highs and lows, along with some tough decisions for both managers.

After erasing an early three-run deficit against Jon Lester, the Twins blew a two-run lead in the seventh inning when Cody Ross drilled a tying home run off starting pitcher Jason Marquis.

(PHOTO: The Minnesota Twins’ Josh Willingham scores against Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on a double by Ryan Doumit, in the fourth inning at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Monday, April 23, 2012. The Red Sox defeated the Twins, 6-5.)

Then, after squandering a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the eighth, the Twins watched Ross connect for another home run in the ninth, this one to the opposite field off Matt Capps, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 victory before an announced crowd of 32,351 at Target Field.

The win ended Boston’s five-game losing streak for Boston and dropped the Twins to 5-12.

“Good baseball game, but we lost; that’s all that matters and disappointing inside that clubhouse,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We needed to find a way to win it and we didn’t get it done.”

The Twins had three main regrets:

— The missed chance in the eighth. With the score tied 5-5, Jamey Carroll singled down the first-base line and advanced to third when the ball scooted away from Boston right fielder Ryan Sweeney. But Boston lefthander Franklin Morales got Joe Mauer to ground out weakly to first base for the first out.

Then, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine summoned reliever-turned-starter Daniel Bard in a familiar relief role.

Josh Willingham lined to third base for the second out, and after Bard intentionally walked Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit popped to shortstop, ending the inning.

“It seems like we’re always one big hit away,” Doumit said.

— The blown lead in the seventh. Twins starter Jason Marquis had thrown 97 pitches when he returned to the mound for the seventh with the Twins leading 5-3. Kevin Youkilis grounded out, but then Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled. Marquis, who had thrown 87 pitches in his first start of the season — Wednesday at Yankee Stadium — was at 104 pitches at this point.

His next pitch was a fastball, clocked at 88 miles per hour, inside to Ross, who smashed it high into the second deck of the left-field bleachers, tying the score 5-5.

“Your starter, that’s what we want, seven innings out of these guys,” Gardenhire said. “This guy’s a veteran, a 200-inning guy. He wants the ball. He felt fine. He felt great. He made a terrible pitch to Cody. He had such a great sinker all night long. We trusted him.”

Added Marquis: “I like to go as deep into the game as possible. I felt good. It was just poor pitch selection.”

— The go-ahead homer for Ross. The Twins haven’t seen many righthanded batters hit opposite-field homers at Target Field. Capps threw a low, 92-mph fastball and Ross was on his way around the bases again.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Cody Ross hit a ball that way,” Capps said. “. . . I went back and looked at (the pitch). It was right where we wanted it to go. . . . We played well enough to win. We played enough to still be playing. I didn’t pitch well enough to still be playing.”

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