Red Sox's offense knuckles under to Twins

Red Sox's offense knuckles under to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was just a complete loss of an afternoon for the Red Sox -- one of those unsavory contests in which nothing went right. The end result was an 8-0 defeat to the Twins in Thursday's rubber match of a three-game series.

From the bats being shut down by Francisco Liriano to some shaky defense (three errors) and a less than spectacular performance by knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, this one started to unravel in the mid-innings.

"Not a very good day," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We had a chance in the first inning to get on the board, and Liriano started throwing that slider, and it looked like he got more comfortable as he got into the game. His fastball had some life on it. We gave him some extra opportunities, some extra chances, and that was a tough way to play the game today."

After a 3-3 road trip that started in Kansas City, the 4-5 Red Sox will try to settle into a groove Friday when they get back to Fenway for their first extended homestand (10 games) of the season.

Wakefield, who turned in a terrific performance in his first start, allowed Minnesota 10 hits and six runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and threw 98 pitches.

"I just didn't have very good stuff today," said Wakefield. "It was one of those games where I tried to grind it out as long as possible. [I had] no feel for [my] breaking ball, couldn't throw [my] fastball for strikes and my knuckleball also wasn't doing very well. I managed to get through four innings pretty decently, and then in the fifth and sixth, [I] couldn't control it anymore."

For the Red Sox, it was simply a bad day all around.

Coming in, Boston had only committed two errors, a total it topped in this one game.

"We feel like we have a great defensive team," said Bill Hall, who made one of the errors in his first start in center field since 2007.

"Obviously you're going to have games -- I don't care who you are -- where everything is not going to be sharp. Today, that was the case. Couple plays here and there, who knows how the game could have turned for us. I don't think anyone's worried. It wasn't mental errors, it was physical."

Are days like this inevitable over the course of 162 games?

"It's bound to happen, but I think you want to make adjustments on it," said Mike Lowell, who started at designated hitter and went 1-for-4. "I don't think you just chalk it up and say, 'Hey, it doesn't matter,' because it does. It's going to happen, for sure."

The Red Sox were without two-thirds of the starting outfield, as Jacoby Ellsbury was out for the fourth consecutive day with bruised left ribs and Mike Cameron was a late scratch with a lower abdominal injury.

The Red Sox had a chance to jump out first in the first inning, as Dustin Pedroia drilled a one-out single and Victor Martinez followed with a double. But Kevin Youkilis struck out and Adrian Beltre grounded out. Instead, it was the Twins who, after an RBI single by J.J. Hardy in the bottom of the second, were ahead the entire day.

As Liriano settled into a nice groove, the Twins established their first sustained rally against Wakefield in the fifth. Nick Punto started it with a double to left and Denard Span then dumped one down the left-field line that fell in front of Jeremy Hermida for an RBI double. Down just 2-0 at that point, the Red Sox, with first base open and one out, issued an intentional walk of Joe Mauer. Unlike Wednesday, it didn't work this time. Justin Morneau roped an RBI single off the wall in right and Mauer wound up scoring on a sacrifice fly to right by Michael Cuddyer.

Things continued to worsen for Wakefield and Boston in the bottom of the sixth. This rally started with one out, when Beltre made a throwing error on a grounder by Hardy. Punto stepped up next and stung a single to left.

Then it was Span who drilled an RBI double to right that turned ugly for the Red Sox. J.D. Drew relayed to Pedroia, who threw to the plate. Punto rounded third and fell down, creating a logjam on the bases. Martinez fired to second, but as he did so, Punto raced home, and Pedroia dropped the ball. That made it 6-0.

"Their guy's rounding second with his head down -- we've got him in a position to get out of the inning," Francona said. "Then I think [Martinez] waited on [Marco] Scutaro to get back to the bag, and their guy at third ends up making kind of a heads-up play. That's a reaction play. I actually thought we had a chance to get out of that inning."

But the fact they didn't was symbolic of the day.

"It was a very ugly game today, and it started with me on the mound," Wakefield said. "I gave up a run early and tried to maintain that deficit for as long as I could. There were a lot of leadoff hits and I was in trouble the whole game after the first, and I wasn't able to stop the bleeding quick enough."

After the game, the Sox headed back to Fenway for a 10-game homestand, which begins Friday night against the Rays.

"We're 4-5," Francona said. "Today wasn't a very good day. We've got some home games now. We've got a good team coming in waiting on us and they've already been there for a day. Let's see if we can play a little bit better."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.