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Kubel's walk-off grand slam lifts Twins past Red Sox

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Some wondered if Jason Kubel would ever make it back from a horrific knee injury that kept him out of action all last season.

Here's the answer.

Kubel's grand slam in the 12th inning off Julian Tavarez gave the Minnesota Twins a 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

"It's all starting to come back now," said the rookie Kubel, who is hitting .444 (12-for-27) with two homers and eight RBI in his last six games.

This one was as classic as a game in mid-June can get.

Kubel's homer put a thrilling ending on a game in which Curt Schilling and Johan Santana dueled to a standstill for eight innings. Each gave up just one solo homer and completely befuddled the opposing hitters, just as everyone expected coming in.

"In the second or third inning I turned to Bill (Hasselman) and said 'we might have to win this game 1-0,'" Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

Not quite.

Julian Tavarez (1-2) hit Michael Cuddyer with one out in the 12th, Justin Morneau hit a ground-rule double to right-center and Torii Hunter was intentionally walked to the load the bases.

Kubel followed with a shot that just got over the big baggie in right field and sent the crowd into a frenzy. Kubel was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, including Santana, who struck out a season-high 13.

"We have high hopes for this young man," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's been putting a lot of good swings on the ball."

Dennys Reyes (1-0) got one out for the win after Jesse Crain gave up an RBI-groundout to Alex Gonzalez in the top of the 12th that gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

But Tavarez couldn't hold it, spoiling an impressive outing from Schilling. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez combining to go 0-for-10 with six strikeouts certainly didn't help.

Cuddyer also homered for the Twins, who got an outstanding effort from Santana. He scattered five hits over eight innings and struck out the first five hitters he faced, with a homer to Jason Varitek in the seventh his only blemish.

"I don't know if I've ever seen his stuff that good," Gardenhire said. "It was a battle to the end."

While nowhere near as overpowering as Santana, Schilling was just as effective against the light-hitting Twins. Schilling's pitches darted in and out of the strike zone, frustrating a young Twins lineup that is still learning how to approach the best of the big league pitchers.

Schilling gave up six hits, one run and struck out five in eight innings, but left with the game tied 1-1 and missed a chance at becoming the majors' first 10-game winner.

"The important thing for me was I didn't get caught up in what he was doing," Schilling said. "I'm not trying to get him out."

He can't be too disappointed with this effort. Schilling gave everything he had in a brilliant showdown with Santana.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the game, there's no doubt," Santana said of Schilling. "I always get excited to face a guy like that. But at the same time, they have to face me and our team."

Santana struck out six of the first seven, before Trot Nixon doubled with one out in the third. He got Ortiz swinging in the fourth for his 1,000th career strikeout, prompting a standing ovation from the adoring home crowd.

The K's just kept coming. The Venezuelan lefty struck out the side in the fifth, getting Nixon to flail weakly at a devastating changeup to end the inning.

"It gets to a point where you think one mistake is going to change the game," Santana said of his matchup with Schilling.

And he didn't just strike people out. After Crisp fanned in each of his first two at-bats, he laid a bunt attempt down the third-base line. Santana leapt off the mound, pounced on the ball near the foul line, wheeled and fired a strike to Morneau at first for the out.

Then in the eighth, Nixon and Gonzalez had back-to-back one-out singles. But Santana stabbed Crisp's one-hopper back to the mound and started a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. He pumped his fist and hollered as he strode back to the dugout, urging his hitters to come through.

They finally did in dramatic fashion in the 12th. Kubel's high drive wasn't exactly a no-doubter.

"In the beginning, we didn't think it was going to be a home run," Santana said. "But hey, you can't do any better. It was out. We won the game. That's all that matters. It's good for him to get all the confidence back."

Notes

  • Ortiz, who spent his first six seasons in Minnesota, was cheered heartily by the Twins fans when he came to the plate in the first inning.
  • Crisp fouled a pitch off in the third inning that got stuck in a speaker along the third baseline and never came down.
  • Schilling surpassed 3,000 career innings.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Jason Kubel admires his walk-off home run to give the Twins a thrilling win in the 13th inning.  (AP)
Jason Kubel admires his walk-off home run to give the Twins a thrilling win in the 13th inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

J. Kubel
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
Boston

J. Varitek
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Boston Red Sox
Coco Crisp, CF6000026 .283
Mark Loretta, 2B4010012 .302
    Willie Harris, PR0000000 .167
    Alex Cora, 2B1000000 .246
David Ortiz, DH5000031 .260
Manny Ramirez, LF5000031 .294
Jason Varitek, C4111120 .258
Mike Lowell, 3B5110012 .316
Kevin Youkilis, 1B4000120 .314
Trot Nixon, RF5030010 .325
Alex Gonzalez, SS5031010 .240
Totals4429221612 
Batting
2B - Trot Nixon (14, Santana)
HR - Jason Varitek (7, Santana)
RBI - Jason Varitek (30), Alex Gonzalez (19)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Varitek (15)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Trot Nixon 1
DP - A. Gonzalez-Loretta-Youkilis, A. Gonzalez-Loretta-Youkilis, Varitek-Lowell
Boston Red Sox
Curt Schilling 8611151 3.59
Jonathan Papelbon 2200020 0.28
Mike Timlin 1000000 1.33
Julian Tavarez (BS,1; L,1-2) 0.1244111 5.83
IBB - Hunter by Julian Tavarez
HBP - Cuddyer (by Julian Tavarez)
Pitches-Strikes - Curt Schilling 91-61, Jonathan Papelbon 22-16, Mike Timlin 15-10, Julian Tavarez 24-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Curt Schilling 10-5, Jonathan Papelbon 3-1, Mike Timlin 2-1
Batters Faced - Curt Schilling 27, Jonathan Papelbon 8, Mike Timlin 3, Julian Tavarez 5
Minnesota Twins
Luis Castillo, 2B4010100 .281
Lew Ford, LF5000011 .221
Joe Mauer, C5010021 .381
Michael Cuddyer, RF4211022 .272
Justin Morneau, 1B5130000 .263
Torii Hunter, CF4120101 .261
Jason Kubel, DH4124021 .292
Luis Rodriguez, 3B4000002 .214
Juan Castro, SS2000010 .231
   a- Terry Tiffee, PH1000001 .214
    Nick Punto, SS1000000 .307
Totals395105289 
a-flied out for Castro in the 8th
Batting
2B - Luis Castillo (9, Papelbon), Justin Morneau (10, Tavarez)
HR - Michael Cuddyer (10, Schilling), Jason Kubel (3, Tavarez)
SH - Jason Kubel (1)
RBI - Michael Cuddyer (33), Jason Kubel 4 (12)
2-OUT RBI - Michael Cuddyer (20)
SB - Torii Hunter (6, 2nd base off Schilling/Varitek)
CS - Torii Hunter (2, 3rd base by Schilling/Varitek)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Santana-Castro-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Johan Santana 85110131 2.99
Joe Nathan 1100110 1.88
Juan Rincon 2100010 1.60
Jesse Crain 0.2211110 6.21
Dennys Reyes (W,1-0) 0.1000000 1.69
IBB - Varitek by Joe Nathan
WP - Joe Nathan (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 102-75, Joe Nathan 22-11, Juan Rincon 14-10, Jesse Crain 20-12, Dennys Reyes 4-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 6-4, Jesse Crain 1-0, Dennys Reyes 1-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 28, Joe Nathan 5, Juan Rincon 7, Jesse Crain 5, Dennys Reyes 1
Game Information
Attendance - 23531
Game Time - 3:27
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Jeff Nelson, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Joe Brinkman