Then errors by other Red Sox players turned a close game into a 6-1 rout Tuesday night as the Twins capitalized on three errors for four runs in the eighth inning.
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"A very good outing by Ryan Dempster. Unfortunately not a lot to show for it on our end," Boston manager John Farrell said.
Dempster allowed five hits and struck out eight before leaving in the eighth after Pedro Ciriaco made consecutive errors on grounders to third, giving the Twins runners at first and third with nobody out. That led to four runs, three of them unearned, as the Twins took a 6-0 lead.
Diamond (3-2) gave up a single in each of the first three innings, didn't allow a runner past first base and retired the last 15 batters he faced. He struck out two and walked none.
David Ortiz went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 27 games, a run that began before he sustained a season-ending injury in August. He has at least one hit in all 15 games he's played this season.
Dempster (2-3) pitched well for Boston and left trailing 2-0 in the top of the eighth after third baseman Ciriaco's errors.
"I just missed those balls. That's it," said Ciriaco, who replaced injured starter Will Middlebrooks in the seventh.
Middlebrooks and backup catcher David Ross collided chasing a foul pop in the fifth near the low wall about halfway between home plate and third base. Middlebrooks caught it, but Ross slid into him, forcing his back to hit the wall. Both left the game.
Farrell said Ross was day to day with a thigh contusion and Middlebrooks was taken out as a precaution for pain in his right side.
The Red Sox entered the game with the best record in the majors, but have scored just 14 runs while losing four of their past five.
The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a leadoff double by Doumit and an RBI single through a drawn-in infield by Wilkin Ramirez. They made it 2-0 on Doumit's homer with one out in the seventh. It was upheld on video review after umpires ruled the ball had cleared the home run line at the top of the left field wall before a fan caught it.
It all unraveled for the Red Sox in the top of the eighth with three errors, a walk and three hits.
Ciriaco bobbled leadoff hitter Brian Dozier's grounder for his first error. The next batter, Jamey Carroll, hit the ball to the left of Ciriaco, who couldn't come up with it for his second error as Dozier took third.
"That was uncharacteristic of Pedro," Farrell said. "He has shown to be a very dependable defender."
Craig Breslow then replaced Dempster and failed to retire any of the four batters he faced. Joe Mauer doubled in one run, Josh Willingham walked to load the bases and Justin Morneau and Trevor Plouffe followed with RBI singles.
Alex Wilson relieved Breslow and Doumit grounded to first baseman Mike Napoli, who threw home for the force out - the first of the inning. Saltalamacchia tried to double-up Doumit, but his throw was low for an error and Napoli's return throw was too late to get Morneau.
Farrell argued Doumit took an inside route to first, interfering with Saltalamacchia's throw. He went back to the dugout, only to come out moments later when Saltalamacchia and umpire Jeff Nelson started exchanging words.
"The explanation to me was, I'm still trying to figure out the explanation. I'll just leave it at that," Farrell said.
- Pedro Hernandez (1-0) pitches for Minnesota against Allen Webster (0-0) on Wednesday night in the third game of the four-game series
- The Red Sox placed Joel Hanrahan on the disabled list with a strained right forearm one day after their other closer, Andrew Bailey, went on the DL with a strained right biceps. Manager John Farrell said Junichi Tazawa would have filled that role if needed.
- Ortiz's streak is the longest by a Red Sox player since Manny Ramirez had a 27-game streak from July 15 to Aug. 1, 2006.