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No run support for Tavarez
MINNEAPOLIS — Johan Santana picked up the victory in a rare five-inning outing and the Minnesota Twins hung on to beat Julian Tavarez and the Boston Red Sox 2-1 Saturday night.
Jason Bartlett's infield single in a two-run second inning was enough to beat Tavarez (1-3), who outpitched the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner and turned in his best start this year.
The only score against Santana (4-2) came on a bloop double by Dustin Pedroia that hit the white line with two outs in the fourth and drove in Wily Mo Pena.
Though Santana lasted at least five innings for the 98th consecutive start, that's all he went after throwing 98 pitches. He surrendered seven hits and two walks while striking out five.
Boston left a runner in scoring position in each of the first six innings and had a three-game winning streak end.
Joe Nathan got the last four outs for his eighth save. Center fielder Torii Hunter ran down a long drive by David Ortiz for the second out in the ninth, and Nathan struck out Manny Ramirez to end it.
Hunter extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a double in the sixth for the Twins, matching the longest streak in the majors this season.
Tavarez struck out seven while allowing four hits, two runs and three walks in six innings. It was his longest outing this year and the only time he'd allowed less than three runs.
With only one victory in the past six days, the Twins needed a lift from their left-handed ace — who lost his previous two starts at home to end a personal streak of 17 straight victories. During that winning span, Minnesota won all 24 times that Santana pitched at the Metrodome.
He hasn't been very sharp, by his standards, over the last three weeks, but he is typically a slow starter who finds his rhythm after the All-Star break.
Escaping the first two innings without a score was a feat for Santana, who threw 30 pitches in the first frame, gave up two long foul balls to Ortiz and walked two.
Santana got out of a bases-loaded jam to end his evening. Mike Lowell grounded out to third baseman Nick Punto, who threw from his knees.
In the second inning, with runners at first and second, Julio Lugo hit a sharp line drive directly to first baseman Justin Morneau that turned into an easy double play when Pedroia couldn't dive fast enough back to the bag.
The Twins entered the game with a .277 team average, tied for the top spot in the league, but their lineup is struggling. Cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer won't play until at least Tuesday because of a bruised back, and catcher Joe Mauer — the reigning AL batting champion — was scratched from the lineup because of a sore left quadriceps muscle.
With a league-low 16 homers, 12 of which have come with nobody on base, Minnesota used a small-ball rally — emphasis on small — to score twice in the second inning against Tavarez.
Morneau's one-out single was the only ball that escaped the infield. Jason Kubel and Jeff Cirillo followed with walks. Jason Tyner drove in the first run with a grounder, and Bartlett's sharp single glanced off Lowell's glove at third to make it 2-0.
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Posted by Thom Cahir at 10:49 PM | Permalink
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