MINNEAPOLIS -- Manager Ron Gardenhire and the Twins are starting to see the signs of a turnaround. They just hope it's not too late.
Reliever Mike Timlin threw wildly to first base on a sacrifice attempt in the ninth -- Boston's second throwing error in the inning -- allowing Minnesota to score the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday night.
"Tonight I felt like something was going to give here," Gardenhire said. "Confidence and momentum are huge in baseball and hopefully we have it on our side now."
Michael Cuddyer led off the ninth with an infield single off Timlin (4-2), but third baseman Bill Mueller bounced his throw past first allowing Cuddyer to move to second. Nick Punto bunted the next pitch back to Timlin, who also fired his throw wide of first base.
"I threw it away, I lost the game," Timlin said. "There's no excuse -- no bad grip, no foot slippage."
Joe Nathan (4-3) pitched a perfect ninth for the victory and Joe Mauer drove in two runs for Minnesota, which won the first two games of the series. The Twins have won only three times in the last 10 games and are six games behind Oakland in the AL wild-card race.
"Hopefully, we've turned the page and got the ship in the right direction," Cuddyer said after the Twins won consecutive games for the first time since July 19-20.
"We still have a lot of fight in the clubhouse and plan on playing in the postseason," added Punto, who also said this was his first game-winning sacrifice bunt.
"It's 162 games and you're going to have great, OK and all different types of games," Mueller said. "You don't want to lose any game in any way."
Damon extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a broken-bat infield single to lead off the game. Two outs later, Manny Ramirez walked and Varitek followed with an RBI single off Johan Santana to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
Damon singled again in the fifth to drive in Tony Graffanino, who led off the inning with a single and moved to third on Gabe Kapler's double. Edgar Renteria drove in Kapler with a grounder to make it 3-0.
Boston starter David Wells allowed one hit until the sixth inning, when the Twins broke through for six hits and three runs to tie it. With one out, Juan Castro, Shannon Stewart and Lew Ford singled to load the bases and Mauer followed with a two-run single. Matthew LeCroy's RBI single tied 3-all.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out against reliever Jesse Crain in the seventh, but Ramirez grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
Damon went 3-for-5 to raise his American League-leading average to .341.
|With teammates charging the field, Michael Cuddyer smiles as he jogs home for the winning run. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Boston Red Sox|
|Johnny Damon, CF||5||1||3||1||0||0||0||.341|
|Edgar Renteria, SS||5||0||0||1||0||1||3||.275|
|David Ortiz, DH||3||0||0||0||1||1||2||.295|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.277|
|Jason Varitek, C||4||0||3||1||0||1||0||.311|
|Kevin Millar, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||0||4||.266|
|Adam Stern, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.154|
|Roberto Petagine, 1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Bill Mueller, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.283|
|Tony Graffanino, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||1||2||.300|
|Gabe Kapler, RF||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.294|
|2B - Gabe Kapler (1, Santana)|
|RBI - Johnny Damon (53), Edgar Renteria (41), Jason Varitek (51)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jason Varitek (22)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|E - Bill Mueller (8, Wild throw), Mike Timlin (1, )|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Mike Timlin (L,4-2)||0.2||1||1||0||1||0||0||1.32|
|IBB - Jones by Mike Timlin|
|HBP - Cuddyer (by Chad Bradford)|
|Pitches-Strikes - David Wells 88-62, Chad Bradford 10-7, Mike Myers 4-3, Mike Timlin 12-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - David Wells 9-3, Chad Bradford 3-0, Mike Timlin 3-0|
|Batters Faced - David Wells 24, Chad Bradford 5, Mike Myers 1, Mike Timlin 5|
|Shannon Stewart, LF||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.279|
|Lew Ford, CF||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.257|
|Joe Mauer, C||4||0||1||2||0||0||2||.298|
|Matthew LeCroy, DH||4||0||1||1||0||1||2||.276|
|Jacque Jones, RF||3||0||0||0||1||2||2||.270|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||4||.250|
|Michael Cuddyer, 3B||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||.264|
|Nick Punto, 2B||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.247|
|Juan Castro, SS||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||.248|
|a- Terry Tiffee, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.205|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.219|
|a-grounded out for Castro in the 7th|
|SH - Nick Punto 2 (5)|
|RBI - Joe Mauer 2 (42), Matthew LeCroy (27)|
|SB - Lew Ford (6, 2nd base off Timlin/Varitek)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Cuddyer-Punto-Morneau|
|E - Nick Punto (3, Wild throw)|
|Joe Nathan (W,4-3)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.89|
|WP - Johan Santana (7)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 94-62, Jesse Crain 13-8, Juan Rincon 19-11, Joe Nathan 14-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 8-8, Jesse Crain 2-0, Joe Nathan 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Johan Santana 26, Jesse Crain 5, Juan Rincon 4, Joe Nathan 3|
|Attendance - 40626|
|Game Time - 2:49|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Tim McClelland, First Base - Chuck Meriwether, Second Base - Mike Everitt, Third Base - Tim Timmons|