The Boston Red Sox are still owners of the AL's best record, but they have some company thanks to a rough stretch - particularly from the rotation.
Boston (21-13) has dropped five of six thanks largely to the rotation's 7.98 ERA. The starters had a 3.00 ERA during a 7-1 run prior to this slump.
Despite the recent struggles, the Red Sox still have the best record in the AL, but they're now sharing that status with Baltimore and Texas.
Another poor start doomed Boston on Wednesday in a 15-8 loss, with rookie Allen Webster surrendering eight of the 11 runs that Minnesota (15-15) scored in the first two innings.
"A tough night from the mound. A number of pitches found their way to the middle of the plate," said manager John Farrell , whose Red Sox allowed 11 runs while splitting the previous two games with the Twins.
While Farrell hopes the pitchers can get untracked, Pedroia looks to continue his torrid hitting at home. The second baseman had his second three-hit game of the series Wednesday and is hitting .469 in his last eight at Fenway. He's batting .353 at home compared to .266 on the road.
The venue hasn't made a difference for Pedroia when facing the Twins. The three-time All-Star and 2008 AL MVP is a career .352 hitter against them, including five multihit efforts in 10 meetings since the start of last season.
The Red Sox are scheduled to turn to John Lackey (1-2, 3.52 ERA), who gave up a homer on his first pitch Saturday and allowed two more runs while issuing three walks in five innings of a 5-1 road loss to the Rangers.
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his last four starts against the Twins but hasn't faced them since 2010.
Minnesota is looking to build on its best offensive display of the season, getting 19 hits with six doubles and two homers. The 15 runs were its most at Fenway since getting 17 in a win May 25, 1965.
Morneau has a career .345 average against Boston - .455 with 10 RBIs over the past eight matchups. However, he's 8 for 33 with one homer versus Lackey.
Kevin Correia (3-2, 2.83) is expected to get the ball hoping to rebound from his worst start of the year.
The veteran right-hander allowed a season-high four runs and two homers in five innings of a 7-3 loss at Cleveland on Saturday. It was the first time this year he failed to complete at least seven innings, and it snapped a three-start winning streak during which he had a 1.64 ERA.
"I just didn't have command of my pitches like I did in my last couple starts," Correia told the team's official website. "I fell behind guys, and they took advantage."
His only meeting with the Red Sox was a scoreless ninth inning of relief with San Francisco at Fenway on June 16, 2007.
Shane Victorino is 6 for 14 against Correia and has five hits in this series, including two homers.
|April 16, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Back contusion|
|April 16, 2013||Darin Mastroianni||15-Day DL||Stress reaction in left ankle|
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|Boston Red Sox|
|May 07, 2013||Joel Hanrahan||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|May 07, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right side soreness|
|May 07, 2013||David Ross||Day-to-Day||Left game - Knee injury|
|May 06, 2013||Joel Hanrahan||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm strain|
|April 29, 2013||Andrew Bailey||15-Day DL||Right bicep soreness|
|April 20, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
BOSTON (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins are heading home with a three-game winning streak. Doing it against the Boston Red Sox makes it more impressive.
The Red Sox had the best record in the majors after they beat the Twins in the series opener. But after losing 5-3 in Thursday night's finale, they dropped out of first place in the AL East for the first time this season.
"It's important that you kind of get that feeling about grinding things out (at) the end of a long road trip," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "These guys really stayed focused."
Oswaldo Arcia hit a two-run homer and the Twins capitalized on a costly throwing error by Boston starter John Lackey to beat the Red Sox, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Boston won the opening game of the series 6-5 in 11 innings on Monday night. Then Minnesota came back to finish the road trip at 5-5.
"To lose that first one, we could have very easily won that one, too," Minnesota starter Kevin Correia said. "So to come back and win three is huge."
The Twins were 4 1-2 games out of first place in the AL Central when they arrived in Boston. They left trailing by 2 1-2.
The Red Sox started the series with a 1 1-2 game lead over New York and Baltimore. They ended it percentage points behind the Yankees and tied with the Orioles for second.
"I don't think anybody is worried about the last seven games," Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "It is the big leagues and everybody is good."
Lackey was pitching very well until his wild throw to second base on a potential inning-ending double play gave the Twins another chance in the sixth and they responded with four unearned runs, including two on Arcia's homer, to take a 5-2 lead.
"I have to make that one play and we win the game," Lackey said. "One play ruined it all."
Correia (4-2) pitched 5 1-3 innings, his second shortest outing in seven starts this season. Then Brian Duensing got out of a sixth-inning jam and Gardenhire kept him in for the seventh. He finished with 1 2-3 hitless innings.
"I appreciate the confidence" Gardenhire showed, Duensing said. "These are the type of situations you want to be in as a reliever."
Jared Burton struck out the side in the eighth and Glen Perkins struck out two more in the ninth and got his eighth save in eight chances.
Lackey (1-3) pitched well until his error, then came back to pitch a perfect seventh before Koji Uehara took over in the eighth. Lackey allowed six hits and one walk and struck out eight. The Red Sox finished with 11 strikeouts, the 21st time in 35 games they've had at least 10.
Boston threatened with one out in the eighth when Daniel Nava walked and Will Middlebrooks reached first when shortstop Eduardo Escobar bobbled his grounder. It was the Twins' first error in 12 games. But Burton struck out Stephen Drew and Mike Carp .
Trailing 2-1, the Twins went ahead to stay in the sixth.
The inning began with a single by Joe Mauer . He took second on a one-out walk to Justin Morneau before Lackey flubbed a chance to get out of trouble. Trevor Plouffe grounded the ball back to the mound, but Lackey threw wildly past Pedroia into center field. Mauer scored on the play, tying the game.
"You're looking for breaks in the game," Gardenhire said, "and that was a break for us."
Ryan Doumit 's sacrifice fly gave Minnesota the lead before Arcia hit the next pitch into the right field seats for his third homer of the season.
"The errant throw opened the door for them," Boston manager John Farrell said. "In the sixth inning (Lackey) was his own worst enemy. Other than that, I thought he pitched really well."
The Red Sox had scored the first run of the game in the third on a double by Shane Victorino and an RBI single by Pedroia. They made it 2-0 in the fourth when Nava singled, took second on a groundout and scored on Drew's single.
The Twins scored a run in the fifth when Arcia tripled and scored on a double by Aaron Hicks .
After falling behind 5-2, Boston scored in the sixth on a leadoff double by Mike Napoli and a run-scoring single by Nava. Middlebrooks then grounded into a forceout. Duensing replaced Correia and retired the next two batters.
That was one of many wasted opportunities for Boston, which left exactly one runner on base in each of the first seven innings, two in the eighth and one in the ninth.
NOTES: Twins SS Pedro Florimon was listed as day to day after leaving the game in the bottom of the seventh with a tight right hamstring. ... The Red Sox transferred closer Joel Hanrahan from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list. He is scheduled to see orthopedist James Andrews on Friday, an examination that could determine if he needs surgery after suffering a strained right forearm. ... Boston opens a three-game series at home with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night with Jon Lester (4-0) pitching for the Red Sox against Ramon Ortiz (0-0). ... Minnesota starts a nine-game homestand Friday with Mike Pelfrey (3-3) pitching for the Twins against Jason Hammel (5-1) of the Orioles.