Boston, MA – Franklin Morales allowed one run in a six-inning spot start, helping the Boston Red Sox halt the bleeding and salvage the finale of a four-game set with Minnesota, 6-4.
Morales (3-2), who had entered from the bullpen in each of his last five appearances and earned a save in his last, gave up only three hits and three walks while fanning four to give the Red Sox their first win this month.
"I feel pretty good today," said Morales. "I tried to make my pitches and throw strikes. I know the team needed to win and I tried to do what I needed to do."
After finishing July with a four-game win streak to get back in the AL Wild Card race, the team dropped its first four this month and entered the day five back of Oakland for the final postseason berth. Boston improved to only 3-4 on a crucial 10-game homestand that continues with three games against Texas.
Adrian Gonzalez homered and Carl Crawford had three hits for the Red Sox, who avoided their first four-game home losing streak to Minnesota since 1993-94.
Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit homered for the Twins, who had won seven of nine prior to Sunday's loss. Ben Revere extended his hit streak to 19 games with a 1-for-3 effort.
"Tough one today. We didn't do much hitting," admitted Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Their guy shut us down pretty good. He was tough."
Nick Blackburn (4-7) suffered the loss after giving up four runs and nine hits in five innings.
After blowing multiple-run leads in each of the last two games, the Red Sox nearly did it again on Sunday.
Vicente Padilla entered the ninth with a five-run lead, but allowed two homers and three runs in the first three batters he faced. He was pulled for Alfredo Aceves, who righted the ship by retiring three straight hitters for his 23rd save.
The Red Sox never trailed on Sunday and had a seemingly comfortable lead heading into the late innings. Crawford's RBI groundout and Gonzalez's RBI single in the third set the table for Boston, which increased its lead to 4-1 on a Gonzalez two-run homer in the fifth.
Minnesota got on the board just prior to Gonzalez's home run on a Revere sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth, but the Twins' deficit proved too much to overcome.
Boston got some more insurance in the seventh when Crawford singled, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Cody Ross' single. In the eighth, Ryan Kalish doubled, stole third and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's sacrifice fly to provide a five-run cushion.
The extra runs were necessary after Willingham's and Doumit's homers brought Minnesota to within two in the ninth.
Boston won the season series, 4-3, with Sunday's contest providing the first win by the home team. The Red Sox swept a three-game series in Minnesota in April...Willingham's homer was his 28th of the season, one shy of his career high, set last year with Oakland.