BOSTON -- Trevor Plouffe welcomed himself back to the majors with a big hit.
Plouffe hit his first homer of the season and Scott Baker pitched eight strong innings for the Minnesota Twins, who capitalized on several Boston blunders in a 9-2 win over the Red Sox on Friday night.The Twins have won three straight for just the second time this season.Plouffe, recalled this week from Triple-A Rochester, hit a knuckleball from Tim Wakefield over the Green Monster in the first inning, sparking one of Minnesota's best offensive performances of the season."During BP he was fired up and ready to go," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He was excited to be out there. It wasn't a nervous excitement. He was fired up to be back in the big leagues and he went out and played like it."
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It was the third major league homer for Plouffe, who hit two during call-ups late last summer."There's really no way to prepare for a guy like Tim," Plouffe said. "That's not really what I was trying to do, to be honest with you, with two strikes against him. He got a pitch up and there was a little jet stream going out there, so it was nice."The Twins finished with 12 hits and got a sharp performance from Baker (2-2), who allowed seven hits, struck out eight and walked one.Minnesota scored twice on balks and took advantage of a pair of errors by the Red Sox, who have allowed 21 runs in their past two games.J.D. Drew homered in the second and Adrian Gonzalez went deep in the fourth, but that was all the offense for Boston, which has lost three straight.Red Sox manager Terry Francona was ejected in the second inning after Wakefield (0-1) was called for a balk. Wakefield allowed eight runs, six earned, and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings."I had a little trouble today," Wakefield said. "Obviously I walked four guys and couldn't find the strike zone and when I did, one ball was hit out of the park and the other one was a double."The Twins were one short of their season high for hits and runs. They also got a little help from the Red Sox, who fell to 3-5 on an 11-game homestand."We slapped the ball around. They made a couple of mistakes and we took advantage of it," Gardenhire said. "I can't remember who got all the hits, but we beat it around pretty good. It was all the way up and down the lineup, which is a good thing."The Twins scored three in the second after loading the bases with no outs. Wakefield nearly got out of it by getting Drew Butera to fly out and striking out Alexi Casilla, but Denard Span got a grounder past first baseman Gonzalez and two runs scored.Ben Revere, who reached on a single, then came in from third when Wakefield was called for a balk while trying to pick off Span. Boston got Span in a rundown and tagged him, but the out was waved off when home plate umpire Angel Hernandez made the balk call.Francona was ejected for storming out to argue the decision, which he proceeded to do for several minutes after Hernandez tossed him. Crew chief Joe West kept Francona away from Hernandez and was bumped a few times while Francona fumed.Francona was more critical of West than Hernandez after the game."That was me and Angel. Joe didn't have anything to do with it. I didn't really appreciate what he did," Francona said. "He was grabbing me. I didn't appreciate that. I thought it was wrong. I thought he was out of line."Gonzalez's long drive in the fourth struck one of the giant signs above the seats on the Green Monster and cut Minnesota's lead to 4-2. But Boston unraveled again defensively in the fifth.Danny Valencia doubled to left with the bases loaded, driving in two more runs for the Twins. Wakefield was replaced by Alfredo Aceves, who inherited runners on second and third. Aceves struck out Revere and got Butera to hit a grounder to shortstop Jed Lowrie, who misplayed the ball. The error allowed Michael Cuddyer and Valencia to score, putting the Twins up 8-2.The Twins got another run in the sixth on two more mistakes by the Red Sox. Plouffe, who reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and went to third when Lowrie missed the throw from home. Plouffe then scored when Aceves was called for a balk before he could get off the next pitch.
Baker struck out leadoff batter Jacoby Ellsbury on his first three pitches. ... Gardenhire said LHP Francisco Liriano's scheduled start Monday will depend on how he feels Saturday. Liriano was sick Friday and stayed at the team's hotel. ... Francona said before the game he might go to the Heat-Celtics playoff game after the Twins and Red Sox play Saturday afternoon -- but don't look for him courtside. "My seats are in hiding position," he said. "They're up where you can get in and out and you're not bringing notice to yourself."
37,798 (102% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
66 degrees, partly cloudy
Home Plate - Angel Hernandez, First Base - Paul Schrieber, Second Base - Chad Fairchild, Third Base - Joe West
The Boston pitching staff committed two balks Friday. The last time Red Sox hurlers balked twice in a game was October 2, 2001, against Tampa Bay. ... Both balks scored runners from third base. The last time ANY team in MLB balked in two runs in the same game was on July 17, 1992, when the Yankees' Rich Monteleone committed two in the 8th inning against California.