Twins: Stagnant offense returns in loss to Red Sox
BOSTON (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins looked like themselves offensively. The problem is, it's not a good thing.
After a solid offensive night in a series-opening win over Boston, the Twins managed just three singles in a 4-0 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday in a game that was delayed by rain for over 2 hours.
"Too many up to this point," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said of his team's lack of offense.
Coming into Friday, the Twins were held to three or fewer runs in eight consecutive games. There was a brief outburst before they fell back into that weak hitting bunch on Saturday.
Minnesota entered the game last in the AL in runs scored and next to last in average.
Clay Buchholz combined with four relievers on a three-hitter and the Red Sox bounced back from the 9-2 loss in Friday night.
When Buchholz came out, it looked like the Twins might get something going. Reliever Rich Hill walked leadoff hitter Denard Span and hit Trevor Plouffe, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
Justin Morneau then bounced into a double play and Jason Kubel struck out to end the inning.
"Morneau crushed it, right on the nose, hanging breaking ball" Gardenhire said. "If he gets it up in the air, it goes in the corner."
That was it.
Except for a solid relief effort by Kevin Slowey, who was reinstated from the disabled list earlier Saturday, there weren't many good things for the Twins.
"This is the first time for me to be in this clubhouse in a while," he said. "I felt good. It'll come. It's been a while."
Slowey threw 4 1-3 innings, allowing one run and six hits after starter Brian Duensing was pulled following a 2-hour, 7-minute rain delay.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Red Sox, who lost their previous two games by a combined score of 20-2.
Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 16 games and drove in two runs for the Red Sox, who collected 12 hits. Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis each had RBI singles.
Minnesota, which had its three-game winning streak halted, lost for the eighth time in its last nine games in Fenway Park.
Buchholz (3-3) pitched five innings despite having to wait through the delay, allowing two singles, walking one and striking out six for his third win in four starts.
Matt Albers and Daniel Bard each worked one inning after Hill.
Jonathan Papelbon then got the final three outs just as the rain started to get heavy again.
The Red Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first against Duensing (2-2) when Ellsbury had a leadoff double, stole third and scored on Lowrie's two-out single.
After Boston's pitchers held opponents to five runs or less for 18 consecutive games, its starters were pounded the past two games.
But Buchholz stopped that.
The 26-year-old right-hander, who posted a 17-7 record last season, came back to start the third inning after the delay, and looked just as strong as when play was halted. He fanned three in the first two innings and one each over the next three, getting some help in the field when third baseman Lowrie made a diving stab of Luke Hughes' liner and fired to first, doubling off Rene Rivera.
The Red Sox made it 2-0 in the third against Slowey on Youkilis' RBI single off the Green Monster after Adrian Gonzalez doubled.
Duensing pitched two innings, allowing one run and three hits before he was lifted after the lengthy delay.
NOTES: Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before the game that he has no plans to move struggling 2B Dustin Pedroia, who was just 6 for his last 53 coming into the game. "I've been around him long enough to know that he will get every bit as hot as he got cold," Francona said. Pedroia singled in four at-bats. ... The Twins sent LHP Dusty Hughes to Triple-A Rochester when they reinstated Slowey, who was sidelined with shoulder bursitis and made two rehab starts for Class-A Fort Myers. ... Francona said before the game that he hadn't heard from MLB regarding his ejection in Friday's loss.