Ortiz's monster game not enough as Sox fall in ninth
Boston rallies its way back, but Miller gives up decisive two-run homer
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Sox had the man they wanted on the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night at Target Field. Andrew Miller isn't Koji Uehara, but he had been putting up similarly dominant numbers of late.
But one misfire at an inopportune time left Miller standing on the mound as Chris Parmelee rounded the bases following a two-out, two-run walk-off homer that gave the Twins an 8-6 victory in the opener of a three-game series.
"It was right into his swing path," said Miller. "It was hard and out of the zone, but it was still right where he can hit it and you can't afford to do it right there."
In his previous six outings, Miller had allowed just one hit and no walks while striking out 12 over six innings.
"Yeah, he's been very good," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "It's going to happen against a good fastball hitter on occasion. What Andrew has evolved into for us in high leverage situations, men on base has been big. It looked like he was on his way towards that again here tonight, but it didn't work out."
To get to Miller in a tie game, the Red Sox had roared back from a 6-2 deficit and tied it up with a three-run rally in the top of the seventh.
David Ortiz had a marvelous night against his former team, going 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs.
With 382 homers in a Boston uniform, Ortiz tied Hall of Famer Jim Rice for third on the all-time club list.
Ted Williams owns the team record with 521 homers and Carl Yastrzemski is second with 452.
"One day, I'm just going to go home, look back and see your name located right next to those guys, and it's a pretty good damn career," Ortiz said.
In his career at Target Field, Ortiz is 25-for-48 with seven homers and 20 RBIs.
Is it something about the hitting background at Minnesota's new home park that Ortiz particularly likes?
"What do I like? Whopping the Twins …" Ortiz said of the team that released him after the 2002 season.
Shane Victorino got Boston started on the comeback trail with a triple to center to open the sixth. Ortiz, who was in the middle of the action all night, followed with an RBI single to left that made it a three-run game.
"The boys, you can't say enough about them scrapping to get back in the ballgame, getting big hits, big at-bats," said Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy, who took a no-decision.
For the Red Sox, that game-tying rally started with, innocently enough, a two-out single by Jackie Bradley Jr. Dustin Pedroia followed with a single to right and Victorino followed with an RBI single up the middle.
Up stepped Ortiz, who continued his prolific night with a hard single that went through the shift and into center for an RBI single against lefty reliever Brian Duensing. Suddenly, the Sox were down by just a run.
Mike Napoli kept the rally going with a walk. Jonny Gomes came up as a pinch-hitter for Grady Sizemore and worked a 10-pitch walk to tie the game.
"We felt like we were gaining some momentum had we gotten through that [ninth] inning," said Farrell. "Felt like we were in good shape as far as who was remaining in their bullpen vs. ours. But you tip your hat to Parmelee, who got one of the better left-handers in the game right now."
Peavy didn't look like himself in this one. The righty went 4 1/3 innings, giving up nine hits and a season-high of six earned runs. He walked two while striking out only one.
"I wasn't quite making pitches," said Peavy. "That's what it comes down to, executing your pitches. It's a scrappy lineup that's doing some good things against some good pitchers. I knew that coming in. Just didn't make a whole lot of quality pitches tonight. I've got to get better, and I will get better."
Ortiz got the night off to an auspicious start when he belted a solo homer to right-center with two outs in the first.
But that slight lead didn't last long, as the Twins put together a five-run rally against Peavy in the second.
Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer to get things going. After a single to right by Eduardo Escobar and a walk to Danny Santana, Brian Dozier ripped a two-run double to right. Joe Mauer's RBI single up the middle made it a 5-1 game.
"I just couldn't make any pitches to get out of it there," said Peavy.
Early on, the only thing the Red Sox had going for them was Ortiz, and he again put one over the wall for a solo shot to lead off the fourth.
"Well, a big night," said Farrell. "He obviously feels very comfortable hitting in this ballpark with the number of extra base hits that he's had here. At one point, he was really all the offense that we had."
By the end of the night, it was a different left-handed hitter who had the last laugh.
"I was looking for a ball up in the zone I could handle," said Parmelee. "I was honestly just trying to put a ball in the gap somewhere and watch Suzuki run. So I was sitting fastball against that guy because not too many guys hit that slider. It's pretty nasty. So I was looking for a good pitch to hit and was able to get one."