The Minnesota Twins may sit near the bottom of the AL standings, but they have made an impact in the wild-card race over the last few weeks.
The Twins will try to win back-to-back games at Fenway Park for the first time in nearly six years when they continue their series against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Minnesota entered Thursday's series opener having dropped 12 of its last 14 games in Boston, but behind a stellar effort from starter Samuel Deduno , the Twins (45-60) held the Red Sox to two hits in a 5-0 win - their first shutout at Fenway since Aug. 3, 1996.
The win was Minnesota's fifth in seven games. The Twins are 9-8 over their last 17, a span which includes a four-game split with Baltimore and sweeping Cleveland last weekend - two of the teams along with Boston that are contending for the two AL wild-card spots.
Improved pitching has helped Minnesota surprise some teams. The rotation has a 3.86 ERA over the last 17 games compared to 5.80 mark during a 36-52 start to the season.
Minnesota hasn't won consecutive games in Boston since September 2006, but will try to continue playing spoiler to the Red Sox (53-53), who have lost their last two following a four-game winning streak.
Boston, which is at the .500 mark for the 16th time this season, trails five teams in the wild-card hunt.
To bounce back, the Red Sox will need more help from the offense after Adrian Gonzalez had both of the team's hits Thursday. He's hitting .397 since the All-Star break and is 11 for his last 21 with a pair of doubles and a home run.
Despite Gonzalez's contributions, Boston's lineup has scored three runs or fewer nine times in its last 14 games.
Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront (10-5, 4.37 ERA), will get the ball for his first career appearance against the Twins.
Doubront gave up one run, four hits and struck out eight in 6 1-3 innings of Boston's 10-inning, 3-2 win at New York on Sunday. He had allowed six runs in his previous outing against Texas.
Duensing, who spent most of the year in the bullpen, gave up one run in six innings of a 5-1 victory over Cleveland on Sunday - one day after learning he'd get the chance to start."I think he kind of likes that: not preparing and just going out there and throwing the ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think he enjoyed that part of it. He did a really nice job."
Duensing has allowed two runs in five career innings against the Red Sox.
|July 25, 2012||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Mild right rotator cuff strain|
|July 21, 2012||Trevor Plouffe||15-Day DL||Bruised right thumb|
|July 17, 2012||Matt Capps||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff irritation|
|June 24, 2012||Matt Capps||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 24, 2012||Matt Capps||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 17, 2012||Joe Mauer||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right quadricep|
|Boston Red Sox|
|July 31, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|July 31, 2012||Josh Beckett||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|July 29, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 21, 2012||Mike Aviles||Day-to-Day||Turf toe|
|July 17, 2012||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right Achilles strain|
|July 14, 2012||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
BOSTON (AP) -- Don't be fooled by their record. The Minnesota Twins have a lot of fight in them.
Propelled by Jamey Caroll and Justin Morneau , the Twins came back from a four-run deficit to earn a 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in 10 innings on Friday night.
"(We) keep battling," said Carroll, who went 4 for 4 and had the game-winning single in the 10th inning. "They got ahead early, but we felt like there was plenty of time. We've always seemed to come back and make it close. A lot of times, we haven't been able to get over the hump. It seems like lately we've found a way to get the big hit."
Darin Mastroianni led off the 10th with a double. After third baseman Will Middlebrooks made a spectacular diving catch on a foul ball by Brian Dozier , Carroll singled off Vicente Padilla (4-1).
The Twins have won six of eight, including the first two games in a four-game series at Fenway Park.
Morneau also went 4 for 4 with two doubles, but early in the game it appeared he could end up being more goat than hero.
"It was probably the most embarrassed I've been on a baseball," Morneau said of dropping Carl Crawford 's foul ball outside first base in the third inning. What would have been the third out turned into three runs when Crawford hammered the next pitch into the Red Sox bullpen, giving the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.
"I thought I could have probably fit under first base if I could have crawled under there."
Morneau got an opportunity to atone for the error in the fifth inning. Red Sox starter Felix Doubront walked Joe Mauer to load the bases and then walked the next batter, Josh Willingham , to make it 5-2. Morneau hit a soft two-run single and the Twins made it 5-all on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .
The Twins held the Red Sox scoreless from the third inning on. Twins starter Brian Duensing went six innings and gave up five runs, only two of them earned, but it was Jeff Gray (6-1) who pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win and weathered Boston threats in the eighth and ninth innings.
"Gray gave us a really big performance," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
With bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, Gray came in and got Dustin Pedroia to fly out. In the ninth, he surrendered a two-out double to Ryan Lavernway, but got Middlebrooks to ground to third base to end the inning.
"We had chances. We just didn't come through," Pedroia said. "They made some good pitches. It's to their credit, too. It's just tough."
Jared Burton picked up his fourth save of the season in six chances.
Morneau scored the first run of the game in the second. He doubled and Mastroianni singled past a drawn-in infield.
Carl Crawford homered, doubled, singled and drove in three runs for the Red Sox. It was his third homer of the week.
NOTES: With his two doubles, Morneau passed Gary Gaetti for sole possession of sixth place on the Twins all-time list with 253. ... Boston RHP Josh Beckett was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday because of a lower back injury. Franklin Morales will fill Beckett's slot. ... Injured Red Sox slugger David Ortiz took batting practice and did some running drills before the game. The designated hitter has been on the DL since July 17 with a right Achilles strain. ... Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey , who has missed the entire season after having right thumb surgery, will pitch for Double-A Portland on Sunday. ... The Red Sox Hall of Fame Class of 2012, including Curt Schilling , Marty Barrett and Ellis Burks , was honored during a midday induction ceremony and again before the game.