To that end, the Red Sox send right-hander Josh Beckett (15-10) against Minnesota ace Johan Santana (18-5) Thursday night in hopes of not only avoiding a series sweep but a season sweep at the hands of the Twins, who have won all five previous meetings.
The Red Sox stand 9 1/2 games behind Minnesota in the American League Wild Card race while the Twins now lead the White Sox by 5 1/2 games for the Wild Card. Minnesota also remains just a half-game behind Detroit in the AL Central.
The Red Sox's five-game skid at the hands of the Twins is Boston's longest against Minnesota since losing six straight June 23-Aug. 10, 1994. Boston has dropped seven of eight against Minnesota, beginning Aug. 5, 2005, and is just 14-21 in the series dating to the start of the 2001 season.
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (15-10, 5.02)
MIN: LHP Johan Santana (18-5, 2.77)
Santana is so good, it's news if the Twins don't win when he's on the mound. That's what happened Friday when Minnesota fell to Cleveland, 5-4, in 10 innings. While Santana didn't get the loss, it was still a tough defeat to take. Santana allowed four runs -- all coming in the first four innings -- in eight innings of work. He gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Garko in the first and run-scoring hits by Franklin Gutierrez in the second and fourth.
After notching only one win in his last nine starts, Beckett rebounded with an impressive performance at Yankee Stadium. He pitched six innings, allowing two runs and four hits in the win against New York. His 15th win matches a season high which he set last season.
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Dustin Pedroia got Boston on the board with a game-tying single in the second. He has hit safely in his last five games, going 6-for-12 (.500), recording his second career two-hit game on Wednesday.
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Official game notes
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Friday: Red Sox (RHP Julian Tavarez, 3-4, 4.89) at Blue Jays (LHP Ted Lilly, 14-12, 4.44), 7:07 p.m. ET
Saturday: Red Sox (RHP Devern Hansack, 8-7, 3.26 at Double-A Portland) at Blue Jays (RHP A.J. Burnett, 8-8, 3.97), 4:07 p.m. ET
Sunday: Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 4-4, 6.28) at Blue Jays (LHP Gustavo Chacin, 8-3, 4.87), 1:07 p.m. ET