Guardado finally shuts door on Sox for eighth save

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins built a big lead with
their offense, and then turned to their defense to preserve it.

Jacque Jones had three hits and scored three runs, and Brad
Radke won his third consecutive start as the Twins held off the
Boston Red Sox 9-8 on Sunday night.

The Red Sox rallied from a 9-1 deficit and made it a one-run
game with two runners on in the ninth inning. Eddie Guardado got
Bill Mueller to ground to shortstop Cristian Guzman, and first
baseman Doug Mientkiewicz made a diving stretch to corral the throw
for the final out.

"I've seen him make that play quite a few times,'' Radke said
of Mientkiewicz, who won a Gold Glove in 2001. "If they call that
play `safe,' who knows what would have happened.''

The Twins won two of three in the series, and 10 of their last
12 overall.

Radke (4-3) gave up five runs and 10 hits, including three solo
homers, in 6 1/3 innings.

He retired 14 of his first 15 hitters before Mueller homered
with two outs in the fifth. Radke departed after giving up four
consecutive hits in the seventh, including back-to-back homers by
Jeremy Giambi and Jason Varitek.

Giambi finished with four hits, including two homers, helping
the Red Sox get back into it.

"We certainly showed tonight we're not going to quit in a
ballgame, even from the biggest deficit,'' Boston manager Grady
Little said.

Guardado pitched the ninth for his eighth save in as many
opportunities -- his first since April 30.

And it was certainly an interesting one. Guardado retired the
first two hitters, then loaded the bases on two singles and a walk.
Shea Hillenbrand delivered a two-run single to cut the lead to 9-8.

"I felt fine,'' Guardado said. "I made good pitches, but when
you make good pitches to good hitters, things like that happen.''

The Twins jumped on Derek Lowe (3-3) early, building an 8-0 lead
after four innings.

Minnesota's offense, which had been dormant for most of April,
has produced at least five runs in 11 of the past 12 games. The
Twins hit that mark by the second inning Sunday.

Matthew LeCroy sneaked a grounder between third baseman Mueller
and the bag for a two-out RBI double in the first.

Luis Rivas' RBI double and Jones' two-run triple in the second
scooted between first baseman Hillenbrand and the bag. Jones came
home on Guzman's RBI groundout.

"It all starts with Jacque,'' Mientkiewicz said. "It always
has, and it always will. When your leadoff hitter comes up and hits
a bullet, it lifts everyone else up one notch.''

Giambi dropped Guzman's fly to left with the bases loaded in the
fourth inning for an error, opening the gates for three more runs.

Lowe left after the fourth, allowing 10 hits and eight runs,
including six earned.

"The team has battled so much when I pitch,'' said Lowe, who is
1-3 with an 11.57 ERA away from home. "My road stats have been
nothing but a struggle, but they just keep hitting.''

Giambi and Varitek hit consecutive pitches from Radke into the
upper deck in right field with one out in the seventh.

Johnny Damon and Todd Walker followed with singles, and LaTroy
Hawkins replaced Radke. Hawkins gave up Manny Ramirez's ground-rule
double, which cut the lead to 9-5, but struck out Trot Nixon to end
the rally.

Giambi hit his second homer with two outs in the eighth off

Game notes
RHP Robert Person pitched two innings at Triple-A
Pawtucket, and the Red Sox might activate him early this week,
Little said. Person is recovering from right elbow and shoulder
surgery. ... Little also said Pedro Martinez was still being
evaluated after aggravating a groin injury Friday. His next
scheduled start is Thursday against Texas. ... The value of backing
up a play was evident in the top of the second, when 2B Rivas threw
away Nixon's grounder. C A.J. Pierzynski backed up the play and
nailed Nixon trying to advance to second base. ... Pierzynski
appeared to turn his ankle awkwardly while stopping at third base
in the second, but stayed in. ... Minnesota Wild players Andrew
Brunette, Nick Schultz and Willie Mitchell attended the game and
were given an ovation when shown on the video board.