Morales worked six solid innings and allowed only one run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts to help Boston to a 6-4 victory, and avoid a sweep, in the series finale against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park. He threw a total of 106 pitches (63 strikes).
The left-hander was dialed in from the get-go and gave the Red Sox an opportunity to win. Morales has worked mainly out of the bullpen this season, but has made six starts and now has a 3-1 record in those outings.
His previous start came on July 13, when he earned the win after five scoreless innings in a 3-1 Boston victory at Tampa Bay. Since then, he’s been working out of the bullpen.
Beckett, who was removed from his last start in the top of the third inning last Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers due to back spasms, is now scheduled to start on Wednesday against the Texas Rangers.
After the Twins pushed across a run in the top of the fifth, Gonzalez added a two-run opposite-field home run in the bottom of the inning to give the Sox a 4-1 lead. It was his 11th homer of the season.
After Morales was done, he handed the ball over to the Sox bullpen. Right-hander Mark Melancon retired the side in order in the top of the seventh. Boston took a 5-1 lead on Cody Ross’ RBI-single in the home half.
Melancon allowed a leadoff double to the Twins’ Jamey Carroll, but the right-hander recorded two more outs in the top of the eighth, before Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine brought in left-hander Craig Breslow. With a runner on second, Breslow faced the Twins’ Joe Mauer, who grounded out 6-3 to end the inning.
Boston has learned of late that no lead is safe, so the Red Sox added another run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Jacoby Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly that scored Ryan Kalish to give Boston a 6-1 lead.
Good thing the Sox tacked on that sixth run.
In the top of the ninth inning, Boston right-handed reliever Vicente Padilla faced three batters and allowed three runs on two home runs with a walk. The Twins’ Josh Willingham led off with a solo home run, before Padilla walked Justin Morneau. Minnesota’s Ryan Doumit then crushed a two-run homer to deep right field to cut the deficit to two runs.
Valentine had seen enough and gave Padilla the hook in favor of closer Alfredo Aceves. Fortunately, for the Red Sox, Aceves retired the next three batters to end the threat and the game.
A HAPPY BIRTHDAY: On the day of his 31st birthday, Crawford continued his torrid streak at the plate. He went 3-for-5 including a double, two runs scored, one RBI and a stolen base. He’s batting .345 (10-for-29) on this current homestand, along with three doubles, one triple, two home runs, eight RBIs, two walks and seven runs.
WEB GEM: Crawford produced with his glove, too, and made the defensive play of the game for the Red Sox. In the top of the second inning, the Twins’ Ryan Doumit led off and lifted a high, fly ball to left field. Crawford headed back to the warning track and made a leaping grab at the Monster for the out.
REHAB CHECK-IN: Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka worked three innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday and allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits with one walk, three stikeouts and one wild pitch. The right-hander threw 75 pitches (49 strikes). Also, Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey worked one scoreless inning for Double-A Portland and allowed three hits with two strikeouts. He threw 23 pitches (16 for strikes).
UP NEXT: The Red Sox begin their final series of this 10-game homestand when they host the Texas Rangers (7:10) Monday night. Right-hander Aaron Cook (2-5, 5.24 ERA) will start for the Red Sox, while righty Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.38) will get the nod for the Rangers.