BOSTON — Nothing is coming easy for the Red Sox these days, even when they have a six-run lead after five innings.
Boston withstood a late offensive charge from the Twins and held on to beat them, 11-9, on Tuesday behind a two-homer game from outfielder Hunter Renfroe and a high-wire act by the bullpen. The Sox took the opener of a three-game series between the teams, winning their second straight game in dramatic fashion.
The Red Sox scored eight times in the fourth and fifth innings to break things open, but Minnesota climbed back with a four-run seventh before threatening with baserunners in both the eighth and the ninth. Matt Barnes’ struggles continued — he entered with a three-run lead in the ninth and promptly allowed a solo homer and walked two batters — but Hansel Robles closed the door on his former team, retiring three straight batters to end the game.
The two teams traded runs early, as Jorge Polanco gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first and Travis Shaw hit his second homer in as many days to tie things in the third. Red Sox starter Tanner Houck, who was hit hard over 4 ⅔ innings, allowed a two-run single to Miguel Sanó in the fourth but left with the lead after Renfroe crushed a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning and made it 4-3.
Boston’s bats really came to life in the fifth, when the club batted around and scored five times. After Kiké Hernández reached on an error to lead off the frame, Rafael Devers extended Boston’s lead to 5-3 with an RBI ground-rule double. Alex Verdugo’s first of two doubles plated two more runs; Renfroe came up next and hit a Griffin Jax pitch over the Green Monster to make it a six-run game.
In mop-up duty, Martín Pérez struggled against his former team, allowing Sanó to plate a run on a groundout in the sixth and Polanco to make it a three-run game with a two-run blast in the seventh. After Hirokazu Sawamura relieved Pérez, Nick Gordon lined a two-out, two-run single up the middle to cut Boston’s lead to a single run.
Ottavino worked around a leadoff single (Christian Vázquez threw out Jake Cave trying to steal second) in the top of the eighth before Kiké Hernández provided some much-needed breathing room with a two-run homer over the Monster.
Barnes entered with a three-run lead but Josh Donaldson smoked the second pitch he saw over the wall and brought Minnesota back within two. Barnes then walked two straight batters before being lifted for Robles; Robles then used a fastball-heavy attack to strike out Gordon and Sanó before getting Cave to line out to end the game.
In total, the Sox crushed four homers and 13 hits. Boston improved to 72-55 with the victory.
Pivetta looks to extend streak
Righty Nick Pivetta (9-6, 4.43 ERA) — whose last outing was his shortest in a Red Sox uniform — will look to extend Boston’s winning streak to three games Wednesday night opposite Twins rookie righty Bailey Ober (1-2, 4.38 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.