Game over: Red Sox 3, Twins 2
Bard did the job, although it wasn't easy. Span took second on defensive indifference and scored on two grounders, the second by Mauer. Bard walked Morneau before Cuddyer singled to right. Thome came to the plate with the tying run on second and grounded to second.
Sox now 4.5 games behind the Yankees in the wild-card race. Back with more later on.
Top of the 9th: Red Sox 3, Twins 1
Buchholz gave up a broken-bat, infield single to Span and out came Francona. Daniel Bard in looking for the save. Papelbon threw 47 pitches the last two nights.
Buchholz walked one, struck out seven and got 11 outs on groundballs. Really impressive work by him tonight.
Top of the 9th: Red Sox 3, Twins 1
Sox went in order. Buchholz back out for the ninth with Okajima and Bard warming up.
Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Twins 1
Kubel reached second on an error in left by Hermida as he overran a fly ball. But Buchholz got pinch hitter Delmon Young to ground to second and Punto on a grounder to first.
Buchholz is at 100 pitches. Were I managing, I'd let him come back out on a short leash. He's earned that and they need to rest the 'pen.
Top of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Twins 1
The Sox threatened in the seventh as Martinez singled with two outs and went to third on a single by Youkilis. But Ortiz flied to left.
Middle of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Twins 1
Morneau singled with one out but Hall (who has played a nice shortstop tonight) started a 6-4-3 double play.
Top of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Twins 1
Consecutive two-out singles by Beltre, Hermida, and Hall produced a run. Buchholz has thrown 78 pitches through six innings. The Sox need him to go deep given that they don't want to use Papelbon. So far, so good.
Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 2 Twins 1
Buchholz got Punto, Span, and Hudson all to ground to second. He has retired eight in a row.
Top of the 6th: Red Sox 2, Twins 1
The Twins went in order in the fifth. The Sox got a leadoff single from McDonald in the bottom half but that was it.
Top of the 5th: Red Sox 2, Twins 1
Beltre singled after the homer. But Hermida's blast to center was tracked down by Span at the base of the wall and Hall whiffed.
Bottom of the 4th: Red Sox 2, Twins 1
It's gone! No. 7 this month for Papi and he has 17 RBIs in 14 games.
Bottom of the 4th: Twins 1, Red Sox 1 (for now)
Martinez singled and then scored when David Ortiz drove a ball to center that struck the wall. Ortiz ended up on third but there is now a review going on as to whether it was a home run. It looked like one from here.
Middle of the 4th: Twins 1, Red Sox 0
Span doubled down the line in left to start the inning. Mauer then drove in the first run of the game with a one-out double to the gap in right. But Buchholz struck out Morneau looking (who didn't like the call) then got Cuddyer on a grounder to third.
Just an observation, but it seems like the umpires are calling a few more strikes in recent weeks and in turn are taking more guff from the players than they usually do. I can remember at least five players in the last few days who barked at the ump for more than a few seconds after being punched out and didn't get tossed. That used to be almost automatic.
Top of the 4th: Twins 0, Red Sox 0
Quick inning for Baker. Punto made a nice play on a ball down the line to throw out Pedroia. We've played three innings in 51 minutes. That seems incredibly fast when compared to those games in New York.
Middle of the 3rd: Twins 0, Red Sox 0
Punto walked with two outs. Buchholz then picked him off on his third try. The first two were close but Punto didn't learn his lesson. You have to give the Sox credit for the work they've done controlling the running game.
Meanwhile, the persistent mist is making the field quite sloppy.
Top of the 3rd: Twins 0, Red Sox 0
Baker retired the Sox in order.
Middle of the 2nd: Twins 0, Red Sox 0
Buchholz had a solid inning, striking out Morneau and Cuddyer and getting Thome to pop to left.
Top of the 2nd: Twins 0, Red Sox 0
Pedroia singled with one out and Youkilis walked (for the 22d time this month) with two outs. But Ortiz popped to left.
Middle of the 1st: Twins 0, Red Sox 0
Hudson singled with one out. When Mauer lined to shortstop, Bill Hall fired a bullet to first base and doubled Hudson off.
Top of the 1st: Twins 0, Red Sox 0
We're underway on time here at Fenway despite the rain. It's 53 degrees and the stands are about a third full.
Hope you enjoy the game and feel free to comment.