BOSTON (AP) – Carl Crawford knew he hit it well enough to reach the Green Monster, and he had one thought when rounded first base.
“I saw him and I was yelling, `Go, go,”‘ Crawford said after his double off the left-field wall scored pinch-runner Jose Iglesias on close play at the plate in the 11th inning, lifting the Red Sox to a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
Crawford, who was hitting just .135 a little over a week ago, had a game-ending single May 1 when the Red Sox beat the Seattle Mariners. Now, he’s starting to enjoy his time with the Red Sox a lot more.
“It’s always nice to get walkoffs,” he said, breaking into a brief smile. “I’ll take `em all the time.”
The double was Crawford’s only hit of the night, but extended his hitting streak to nine games after his dreadful start. He’s now hitting .211.
“He’s still settling in,” Boston catcher Jason Varitek said.
Jonathan Paplebon, who blew his first save opportunity of the season, was more than happy to talk about Crawford’s recent success.
“I think we’re seeing a guy that goes out there, that’s a great athlete and is doing what he can to pick up the ballclub,” he said.
Boston beat Minnesota in the final three games of a four-game series, and won for the 11th time in 12 games in Fenway Park.
“He probably didn’t get out as far as he could have, but he was probably running about as fast as he’ll ever run,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of Iglesias, who was called up Sunday when Marco Scutaro was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique.
The Red Sox closed out their longest homestand of the season at 6-5.
Hideki Okajima (1-0) pitched two innings, getting out of a two-on, one-out jams in each, for the win.
“He had been rested for a few days, which is good, because we’d leaned on Matt Albers and Daniel Bard a little bit and wanted to stay away from them,” Francona said of using Okajima two innings. “He did a good job.”
Jed Lowrie drew a one-out walk against Jim Hoey (0-1) and Iglesias pinch ran. Crawford lofted one off The Wall and Iglesias slid in just ahead of the throw from short left by shortstop Matt Tolbert, knocking catcher Rene Rivera over as he scored.
“We just haven’t been scoring runs and it continued tonight,” Gardenhire said, who was ejected in the ninth inning by home plate umpire Joe West.
“He didn’t want me to come on his dirt,” he said.
Gardenhire came out after Danny Valencia’s attempted check swing was called a strike by West. Valencia appeared to want him to appeal to first.
The Twins, last in the majors in scoring, have put up three or fewer runs in 10 of their last 12 games, and 22 times this season.
Minnesota put runners on first and second with one out in the 10th against Okajima, but Tolbert struck out and Alexi Cassila bounced into a fielder’s choice. They did it again in the 11th, but Ben Revere grounded into a fielder’s choice and Rivera struck out.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled in the third inning, extending his hitting streak to 18 games for the Red Sox. It’s his longest since a career-best 22-gamer in May 2009.
Boston wasted a chance in the bottom of the inning. Dustin Pedroia had a one-out double against Jose Mijares and advanced on Adrian Gonzalez’s grounder to second. After Kevin Youkilis was walked intentionally, David Ortiz grounded out into the shift in short right.
The Red Sox broke up the scoreless game in the fifth. Varitek had a leadoff double and advanced to third on Ellsbury’s ground out to second. After Pedroia bounced to short with the infield in, pitching coach Rick Anderson visited starter Nick Blackburn before Gonzalez lined the first pitch to left, making it 1-0.
The Twins tied it in the eighth off Papelbon.
Denard Span reached on an infield hit to third with one out in the eighth against Alfredo Aceves before the right-hander was called for a balk by first base umpire Angel Hernandez. After Tolbert fouled to third, Papelbon entered and Jason Kubel blopped a single over second baseman Pedroia into right-center.
The late run wasted a solid start by Josh Beckett, who gave up six singles, struck out five and walked one over seven innings.
Blackburn, starting when Francisco Liriano was pushed back a day following a bout with the flu and a sore throat, gave up one run, seven hits, walked three and struck out five over 6 1-3 innings.
The Twins collected singles in each of the second through sixth innings, but stranded a runner each time.
Beckett had his last start cut short after 4 1-3 innings by a 2 hour, 35 minute rain delay. It was his fourth straight no-decision after winning two straight starts in early April when he threw 15 innings, allowing just one run.
NOTES: Francona said before the game he hadn’t heard anything from MLB regarding his ejection in Friday’s 9-2 loss to the Twins. “I figured if it was that bad I’d probably hear from them,” he said. … LF Revere made a fully-stretched diving catch on Ortiz’s liner in the second. … Span robbed Ellsbury with his sliding catch in the seventh.
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