BOSTON – Jared Burton gave up three consecutive two-out hits on Monday night, the final one driving home the winning run in the 11th inning of the Twins’ 6-5 loss to the Red Sox.
But it could be argued that Burton’s worst toss of the night wasn’t from the mound.
Burton, the normally reliable setup man, had gotten the first two outs of the inning. Then he threw a nasty pitch that Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia barely got a piece of, sending a slow roller to the right of the mound.
Burton fielded the ball and threw quickly to first, but his throw pulled Justin Morneau off the bag, so Saltalamacchia was given an infield hit.
The game unraveled for the Twins from there. Will Middlebrooks singled to left before Stephen Drew lofted a double to the base of the Green Monster, scoring Saltalamacchia with the winning run. Ryan Doumit was in left field, as Josh Willingham had been replaced by a pinch runner in the ninth. But Doumit could not get to the ball in time.
“It was off the wall, and we had to run quite a ways going into a metal wall out there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And I don’t expect my backup catcher to do that. That’s not an easy play for an everyday guy.”
The inning unraveled after Burton’s errant throw to first.
“He just kind of rushed his throw,’’ Gardenhire said. “If he sets his feet, he probably gets him.’’
It made a hero out of Drew, who ended the 4-hour, 44-minute game with his fourth hit of the night. Drew’s homer in the seventh inning off Casey Fien tied the score at 4-4. The following inning, Dustin Pedroia ended a 10-pitch battle with Fien by lifting a homer over the Monster, and the Twins looked cooked after blowing a 4-1 lead.
But Brian Dozier brought the Twins back from a 5-4 deficit in the ninth with a solo home run off Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan, who left later in the inning because of right forearm tightness.
“We had some opportunities,’’ said Gardenhire, whose team left 11 runners on base. “They had some opportunities and finally they get the big hit there. A tough ballgame for us.’’
The pitching matchup was between two starters with something to prove. Twins righthander Vance Worley had to prove he can win in the American League. Clay Buchholz had to prove his success is through what’s in — and not on — his arm.
Buchholz made his start five days after two Toronto broadcasters — one of them Jack Morris — suspected Buchholz of doctoring the ball. Buchholz denied it, and entered Monday 6-0 with a sparkling 1.01 ERA.
Joe Mauer and Willingham hit back-to back doubles in the first and Justin Morneau followed with a single for a 2-0 Twins lead. Aaron Hicks added an RBI double in the fourth to make it 3-0 and Morneau made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Boston chipped away at Worley, scoring runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to chase him from the game. His first four innings were solid, but Worley struggled some in his last two.
“I commanded both sides of the plate, was working down,” Worley said. “The last couple innings I started to elevate. For the most part, I’m happy with that. It would have been nice to pull out a W but I’m just doing my job, trying to go as deep as I can.”