MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Curt Schilling wasn't expecting to be needed, but Boston's temporary closer came in to help the Red Sox avoid a sweep.
Schilling got his seventh save in Boston's last eight wins, preserving an 11-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.Tim Wakefield (11-9) pitched eight innings, but Schilling was forced to come in after Manny Delcarmen struggled in the ninth."I certainly didn't think I'd be pitching in the game," said Schilling, who struck out Jacque Jones with the bases loaded for the final out.Manny Ramirez went 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBI. He doubled in a run in a five-run first, when the Red Sox batted around and tied a season high with six hits in the inning against Joe Mays (5-7), who had his worst start of the year.Delcarmen was charged with three runs and left with the bases loaded, and Schilling walked Matthew LeCroy to cut the lead to four before earning his ninth save in 10 chances."I was more upset about the walk," Schilling said. "I didn't want to do something stupid to get the tying run to the plate."Wakefield struck out a career-high 11 and allowed just six hits in eight innings, allowing four runs -- two earned. Five times, the knuckleballer set Minnesota hitters down 1-2-3."He strikes out people with his movement. Obviously the ball was dancing," Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli said. "He mixed in some other pitches when he needed to."LeCroy struck out three times, once losing his helmet as he stumbled after flailing at a knuckleball on a strikeout to end the sixth."His ball was moving all over the place," LeCroy said. "It's amazing how that ball was dancing around today. Then you bring in Schilling, and it looks like 105."It was the third time this season that Wakefield earned a victory in a game that prevented a sweep by the opposition."I'm aware of the circumstances, but I can't win it on my own," he said. "The offense was incredible today."Edgar Renteria, Kevin Millar and Gabe Kapler each had three hits for the Red Sox, who remained 3½ games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.Mays yielded a career-high 13 hits in 4 2/3 innings and tied season highs by allowing eight runs -- seven earned. He has not won in six starts since July 3.After J.C. Romero buzzed him with an inside fastball, Ramirez hit the next pitch for his 31st homer in the seventh inning. He flipped his bat, watched it sail over the right field wall, slowly jogged around the bases and hugged David Ortiz after crossing the plate for the 10th run.Ramirez doubled in a run in a five-run first, when the Red Sox batted around and tied a season high with six hits in the inning.A gaffe by left fielder Shannon Stewart was among Minnesota's early woes. Thinking there were three outs instead of two, Stewart caught Alex Cora's foul ball and then tossed it into the crowd. The two-base error allowed Millar to score."It was a long inning, and I forgot. I'm mad about it. I messed up," Stewart said. "It was a tough day for us, and I made it worse."Minnesota, which lost for the eighth time in 11 games, got back into the game in the third with four straight singles, the last a two-run hit by Nick Punto. Lew Ford then hit a double-play ball to third baseman Cora, but his throw to second went into right field -- allowing Stewart to score and make it 5-3.Boston allowed eight unearned runs in the series, after allowing just seven in its previous 33 games.The Red Sox responded with three runs in the fifth on Roberto Pentagine's three-run double that knocked out Mays. Kapler hit his first home run of the season in the eighth.Stewart hit a two-run double in the ninth.
Wakefield joined Roger Clemens and Cy Young as the only pitchers to throw at least 2,000 innings in a Red Sox uniform. He now has 2,001. ... Pentagine's hit and RBI were his first in the major leagues since Sept. 27, 1998, when he was with Cincinnati. ... Wakefield has not lost to Minnesota since April 26, 1999. In the 11 games since, he is 6-0 with two saves. ... The Twins have not swept Boston since Aug. 8-10, 1994. ... Mays' ERA is 7.76 in his seven losses and 2.97 in his five wins.