BOSTON (AP) — The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn’t need to score a lot.
Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL’s top teams.
“When you’ve got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he’s going to do the rest,” Moreland said. “Obviously, tonight was another example of that.”
Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.
The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.
“When the guys score early for you, it’s nice,” Sale said. “It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes.”
Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins’ offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland’s win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.
Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.
The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.
“It’s what we’ve seen many times. He had a nice mix,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties.”
Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.
“When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent,” Berrios said through a translator.
Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.
Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.
Gimenez’s homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.
Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes, on the 10-day disabled list since late May with biceps tenderness, “felt good” but the pitcher had hoped his velocity would be a bit higher. … LHP Glen Perkins, on the DL with a shoulder strain, is expected to resume throwing again Tuesday after a setback about a week ago.
Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez was out with a sore left knee after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. … 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the 10-day DL since June 20 with a left inner-ear infection, is slated to start a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said there’s no planned date for his return. … Moreland fouled a ball that bounced and hit near his right eye.
NICE START, KID
Red Sox 3B Tzu-Wei Lin singled to right in his first major-league at-bat and first career start.
The 23-year-old from Taiwan played third on his country’s national teams in 2009 and 2010. He’s the second Taiwanese-born player to make Boston’s major-league roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was the other, in 2012.
Twins LF Eddie Rosario made three nice running, over-the-shoulder catches.
Infielder Jhonny Peralta reported to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. Boston signed him to a minor-league deal after he was released by St. Louis earlier this month.
The plan is to alternate him at third and DH with Sandoval.
The Twins sent RHP Dillon Gee back to Triple-A to make room for Tuesday’s starter LHP Hector Santiago.
Twins: Santiago (4-6, 5.26 ERA) will be activated off the DL Tuesday. He’s been sidelined since June 7 with a strained left shoulder.
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.07) looks to snap a three-start winless stretch.
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