|Closing Time: Red Sox salvage much-needed win over Twins||08.05.12 at 4:53 pm ET|
In a time of desperation, the Red Sox turned to a man who hadn’t started a game in nearly three weeks to get them out of their funk.
Starting for the hurt Josh Beckett, Franklin Morales stepped to the mound Sunday and tried to stop the bleeding of a four-game losing streak and help the Red Sox avoid being swept by a less than average Twins team. And not only did he get the job done, propelling the Red Sox to a 6-4 victory, he turned in one of the best outings by a Red Sox pitcher in recent memory.
In his first start since July 13, the reliever turned spot starter pitched more than satisfactory, finishing with six innings, allowing one earned run on just three hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 106 pitches as he picked up the win, his third of the season. The quality start came at an opportune time for a struggling Red Sox team that simply couldn’t afford a fifth straight defeat.
The bullpen, despite nearly coughing up the game again in the ninth, finished the job in completing a win that pulled the Red Sox back to one game under .500 and five games back in the loss column of the Wild Card standings.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
• One night after the bullpen blew a pair of late-inning leads, Mark Melancon and Craig Breslow combined for two scoreless innings, while Alfredo Aceves, who gave up the game-winning home run on Saturday, relieved Vicente Padilla in the ninth and put together a 1-2-3 inning to end the game.
• Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez combined to put on an impressive hitting display to carry the Red Sox offense. Crawford, on his 31st birthday, finished 3-for-5 with three singles, an RBI and a stolen base while Gonzalez finished 2-for-3, including an opposite field two-run home run into the Monster seats in the fifth inning that increased the Red Sox lead to 4-1.
After blasting just six home runs in the first half of the season, Gonzalez already has five since the All-Star break. And with two hits in the game, Gonzalez now has 38 multi-hit games this season and has also reached base safely in each of his last 12 games since July 24.
Crawford, meanwhile, pushed his hitting streak to three games. He has now hit safely in eight of his last nine games dating back to July 27 in New York.
• Cody Ross went 2-for-4, including an RBI single in the seventh that pushed the Red Sox lead to 5-1. Ross has reached base in nine of his last 10 games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
• It was shades of Saturday night, as the Red Sox nearly blew another lead Sunday. Padilla, relieving Breslow in the ninth, didn’t record an out and gave up two home runs to help breathe life into the Twins, who narrowed the deficit to two runs before Aceves saved the day.
• Morales’ lone blemish came in the fifth inning, when a sacrifice fly to center from Ben Revere scored Alexi Casilla from third.
In the four-game series, Revere was a thorn in the side to Red Sox pitching. While increasing his hitting streak to 19 games, Revere was 7-for-18 in the series, including a 3-for-5 game on Saturday night.
• Despite a stellar outing, Morales gave up three walks, tied for the most he’s given up in a game this season. Morales has surrendered three walks in each of his last two starts.
• Gonzalez made a rare mental error in the seventh inning when he was doubled up on the basepaths. With both him and Ross on base, Jarrod Saltalamacchia launched a deep fly ball to center, which forced Revere to make an over-the-shoulder grab. Gonzalez ran after contact was made and was caught well off base past third as the Twins completed the double play to end the inning.
• Saltalamacchia finished 0-for-4 with one strikeout. He was the only Red Sox not to reach base, and has also struck out at least once in 18 of his last 20 games dating back to July 6.
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