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Closing Time: Jonny Gomes’ sacrifice fly hands Red Sox extra-inning win over Twins

05.17.13 at 11:35 pm ET

MINNEAPOLIS —  Jonny Gomes and the Red Sox did just enough.

After struggling offensively for much of the game, the Sox were finally able to get over the hump when Gomes plated Dustin Pedroia with the eventual game-winning run via a sacrifice fly to center field. The 10th-inning RBI allowed for a 3-2 win for the Red Sox over the Twins in the teams’ series-opener at Target Field.

“They had a couple double plays early on in the game, like just don’t run into a double play,” said Gomes regarding what he was thinking. “But just sort of a pitch to elevate really. Left-center, right. Just a pitch I could elevate, get under. And it worked out.”

Clay Buchholz turned in another stellar performance, this time allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings. The outing dropped the starter’s ERA to 1.78.

Buchholz was followed by relievers Andrew Miller (1 2/3 innings), Alex Wilson (one batter) and Koji Uehara (inning), who all were perfect in their stints. In fact, the Red Sox teamed to retire the last 17 Twins batters.

“It speaks for itself,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell regarding the pitching. “On a night when [Junichi Tazawa), we wanted to stay away from him, [Clayton] Mortensen was down. Andrew Miller what he did last night down in Tampa and again tonight, after the first three or four outings of the season, he’s really started to turn the corner. The dependability of strike-throwing is there, the breaking ball has been much more consistent to give him something to get right-handers off his fastball. They did an outstanding job coming to the mound.”

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Twins starter Vance Worley — who came into Friday with a 7.15 ERA — also turned in his second straight solid outing against the Sox. The Minnesota righty, who had allowed three runs over five innings in getting a no-decision May 6, allowed one run over six innings. This after the Sox came into the game ranking second in the majors with 5.28 runs per road game.

Here is what went right and wrong for the Red Sox in their 42nd game of the season:


– The Red Sox were able to prevent Buchholz from taking a loss in the seventh when Jacoby Ellsbury’s sharp ground ball up the middle couldn’t be gathered in by Minnesota shortstop Pedro Florimon, allowing Gomes to come in with the game-tying run. The hit tied the game at 2-2 and pushed Jarrod Saltalmacchia to third with one out.

– Despite dealing with a sore left side — which he aggravated once again in his first at-bat Thursday night — David Ortiz came through with his third three-hit night of the season.

– The Red Sox initially jumped to a 1-0 lead with a run in the first inning. The score came when Ortiz singled in Daniel Nava, who had singled and moved to second via second baseman Brian Dozier’s throwing error.

– Will Middlebrooks executed the first sacrifice bunt of his career, moving pinch-runner Pedro Ciriaco to second and Dustin Pedroia in the 10th inning. The bunt paved the way to an intentional walk issued to Stephen Drew, leading to Gomes’ sacrifice fly.

“I came up and [third base coach Brian Butterfield] came up and talked to me,” said Middlebrooks, whose only other professional bunt came while playing for the Single-A Lowell Spinners. “They had a pitching visit, I told him, ‘If you want to give it to me I can get it down.’ They didn’€™t give it to me first pitch, second pitch they gave it to me and I got a good pitch to do it on.”

Added Farrell, “What we’ve seen is he’s a very good athlete. He’s got good hand-eye coordination. Knowing that it wasn’€™t part of his game as an offensive player, still I thought the game situation called for it. He executed it perfectly. … Just gave him a heads up that it may be coming. In the 1-0 situation, knowing they’d have to throw him a strike, it was the pitch that he did a very good job with.”

– With closer Tazawa having pitched two innings Thursday night, Uehara closed out the game for the Sox for just his second save over the last three seasons.


– The Red Sox had an opportunity to claim the lead in the seventh, with Ellsbury at second and altalamacchia at third with one out and the game tied. But with lefty reliever Brian Duensing pitching, Nava — who entered the at-bat 2-for-15 against lefties since April 13 — struck out. Dustin Pedroia then popped out to second against righty reliever Casey Fien to end the threat.

– Buchholz’ only miscue came in the third when Florimon cleared the right field wall for a two-run homer and a Twins lead. It was just the second homer allowed by the Red Sox’ starter this season, and first since his initial appearance of the season.

“Good pitch, maybe the wrong spot to use it in,” said Buchholz of the home run. “It was actually a better pitch than I was wanting to throw. Just trying to throw a strike over’€¦. He dropped the head to the ball’€¦. Overall I felt pretty good.

“I was able to get out of trouble in big situations without giving up any more damage outisde of the home run. It doesn’€™t always work that way. Fortunately tonight I was able to do that and hand it over to the guys in the bullpen, and we came out with the win.”

– After rocketing a two-out double in the right-center field gap in the eighth, Stephen Drew seemingly hurt his lower back. After being checked out by trainer Rick Jameyson and manager John Farrell, Drew remained in the game. After a walk to Gomes, the Twins ended the Sox’ threat when Jared Burton struck out Mike Carp. The punch-out put the Sox at 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, after Farrell’s team had totaled the majors’ second-best OPS with RISP over the past three games.

“I ran so hard to get to second, just the way I hit the bag all my force bent my back in the middle. It was awkward,” Drew said. “Other than that, come in tomorrow and see how it is and go from there.”

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