Hunter homers, drives in three in win

BOSTON (AP) -- The late-inning relief of Juan Rincon and Joe
Nathan came through again for the Minnesota Twins.

Rincon stranded a runner at second base in the seventh and
Nathan retired the final three batters after a leadoff double in
the ninth, preserving the Twins' 4-2 win over the Red Sox on
Wednesday night.

"No matter where you go in the major leagues, you're going to
find solid lineups," said Nathan, who got his 20th save in 21
chances. "These guys are definitely up there among the best."

One part of that lineup, second baseman Pokey Reese, partially
tore a ligament in his left thumb but won't need surgery and could
play again by the weekend, Red Sox team physician Dr. Bill Morgan

Reese was hurt while diving for a grounder in the second inning.
Luis Rivas got a single on the play.

"I'm trying to stop it from getting to the outfield," said
Reese, who left the game after the bottom of the second. "It's
just the way I play."

In the past two weeks, Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon came off
the disabled list for the first time this season. Third baseman
Bill Mueller still is sidelined but may be back before the All-Star

First-place Minnesota moved two games ahead of the Chicago White
Sox in the AL Central. Boston has lost three of four and five of
its last eight.

Carlos Silva (8-4) allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings, and Torii
Hunter had a home run and three RBI for Minnesota. Mark Bellhorn
and Nixon homered for Boston.

Then Rincon held an opponent scoreless for the 17th time in 18
appearances and Nathan did the same for the 27th in 28 chances.

"Our bullpen had a bad game yesterday, but they've been doing a
very good job," Silva said.

Boston won 9-2 Tuesday after Aaron Fultz retired one of five
batters in the seventh and Joe Roa allowed a grand slam by

On Wednesday, Rincon retired all five batters he faced after
Silva left following a double by Jason Varitek in the seventh.
Nathan allowed a leadoff double in the ninth by Garciaparra before
retiring Nixon on a popup and Kevin Millar and Varitek on

"The chance of this offense scoring two runs isn't very good,"
said Derek Lowe (6-6), who hadn't allowed an earned run in 18
innings coming in.

Lowe pitched well after allowing three runs in the first on
singles by Cristian Guzman, Doug Mientkiewicz and Lew Ford and
consecutive forceouts. Corey Koskie started the sixth with a double
and Hunter hit his 10th homer.

Those were the first two fly balls against the sinkerballer.

"In my career, I've never been able to hit a fly ball off him
," Hunter said. "He's a ground-ball pitcher. All you can do is
try to get under it."

Nixon pulled the Red Sox within two in the seventh when he hit
his third homer since he was activated June 16.

Silva allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. He was
2-4 in his previous eight starts after opening the season at 5-0 in
his first six.
^Notes:@ Garciaparra went 1-for-4 and is 11-for-43 (.256) since
returning. ... The Red Sox were hurt by two double plays -- one by
Manny Ramirez with runners at first and third in the first and the
other by Johnny Damon with runners at first and second in the
fifth. ... Boston's opponents have three errors in their last 12
games -- Minnesota hasn't made any in the first two games of the