(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Twins continue to be one of the bigger surprises in the league. On Tuesday they go after another series win when they play the middle test of their three-game affair with the Boston Red Sox at Target Field.
Minnesota opened this set with its fifth win in six games, as Trevor Plouffe's three-run homer and 7 2/3 strong innings from Ricky Nolasco carried it to a 7-2 win.
Nolasco (5-1) won his fifth straight start and earned career victory No. 100 with his best and longest outing of the season. The right-hander held the Red Sox to a pair of runs on seven hits and fanned five without a walk.
"That was good to go deep in the game against, obviously, not a fun lineup to face -- they can change things pretty quickly," Nolasco said of the Red Sox. "I was just trying to be a little more efficient."
Plouffe's blast capped a six-run second inning against Joe Kelly and helped the surprising Twins collect their fifth win in six games. The homer was one of 16 Minnesota hits, with Eduardo Escobar finishing 3-for-4 and both Eduardo Nunez and Eddie Rosario going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Twins have now won 17 of their last 23 games overall.
Kelly (1-4), meanwhile, had his winless stretch lengthened to eight starts after being pasted for seven runs and eight hits in only 1 2/3 innings.
"I knew they were going to come out swinging," said Kelly of the Twins. "They were right on the heater every time."
Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts and Mike Napoli had two hits each for Boston, with Hanley Ramirez recording an RBI single in defeat.
Getting the call for the Red Sox on Tuesday will be righty Clay Buchholz, who has lost five of his last six decisions. Buchholz's latest loss came on Thursday against Texas, as he surrendered three runs (2 earned) and five hits over 7 1/3 innings to fall to 2-5 on the year to go along with a 4.58 ERA.
"I thought Clay certainly gave us a chance to win this ballgame," Boston manager John Farrell said. "Going into the eighth inning, kept his pitch count well in check, and through the middle innings I thought he did an outstanding job for us to get that deep."
Buchholz is 3-1 in eight starts versus the Twins with a 4.25 ERA.
Minnesota, meanwhile, turns to righty Mike Pelfrey, who is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Pelfrey did not get a decision on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, but pitched well, as he allowed a run and five hits over six innings. He also struck out five without walking a batter in his team's 4-3 win.
Boston won four of its six matchups with the Twins last season.