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Morneau, Blackburn pace Twins past Red Sox

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Minnesota played well on both sides of the game to beat Boston 5-2.

Nick Blackburn pitched seven solid innings and Justin Morneau hit a laser into the vampire seats in right field to carry the Twins past the Red Sox at the Dome.

The Sox seemed fooled by Blackburn's velocity, which registered at 96 in the Metrodome gun. Blackburn changed speeds effectively and kept the Sox off balance most of the game, striking out seven Sox hitters to kill rally after rally.

Blackburn pitched around lead-off hits in the first four innings, and gave up his only earned run in the fifth, when Julio Lugo led off the inning with a single. After Lugo was forced out by Jacoby Ellsbury, he came around to score on a Dustin Pedroia double.

Boston's only other run came in the seventh, when Ellsbury and Pedroia hit one-out singles. But when JD Drew hit what looked like a sure double play ball to Matt Tolbert at second, the relay from Nick Punto landed 10 feet in front of Justin Morneau at first and bounced over his head, scoring Ellsbury. Morneau caught the ricochet off the sidewall and nailed Drew trying to advance to second to end the inning, and Blackburn's night.

The Twins scored all their runs in fifth, starting with the bottom of the order. With Jon Lester seemingly in control, Brendan Harris hit a clean single to left. The next batter, Delmon Young, got robbed on a leaping over-the-shoulder Web Gem by Ellsbury on the second hardest hit ball of the night. With Harris running, Matt Tolbert chopped one off the plate for an infield single. Nick Punto followed with just his fourth right handed hit  on the year (in 26 at bats), a solid knock to right center, scoring Harris. Denard Span drove in Tolbert with a grounder to second, bringing up the big boys. After a Joe Mauer walk, Justin Morneau crushed an inside fastball from Lester for a three-run homer.

That would be enough on this night, as Matt Gurrier pithced a clean eighth for his sixth hold and Joe Nathan pitched an uneventful ninth for his 7th save.

Studs:

1. Nick Blackburn: He showed why he's the Twins best pitcher right now. 7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.

2. Justin Morneau: He still swings at everything, but he's so locked in, he manages to hit more than his fair share as well. That ball literally broke a seat while breaking the game open.

3. Jacoby Ellsbury: I know he's a Red Sox player, but that was one of the best catches I've ever seen. That ball was smoked by Delmon a little to the right of center. He turned, sprinted and laid out to catch it well behind him. He also went 2-5, scoring both Sox runs. What might have been...

 

Duds:

1. Jon Lester: There is no reason a guy who throws 97 from the left side with a devastating slider should give up five runs in an inning. There are three reasons for this: location, location, location (sound familiar?). That pitch to Morneau was belt high on the inside part of the plate. If he keeps throwing guys like Morneau that pitch, he's going to get someone killed in the right field bleachers.

2. Jason Bay: Struck out looking twice with men on base. Didn't seem to have his head int eh game.

3. Jeff Bailey: 0-4 with 4 LOB.

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