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BOS@MIN: Twins push across five runs in the sixth

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was the same old story for the Twins on Wednesday night against the Red Sox.

The offense and bullpen did their jobs, but the starting pitching failed yet again, as right-hander Liam Hendriks allowed seven runs over just four-plus innings, and the Twins couldn't quite recover despite a late rally in a 7-6 loss at Target Field.

With Hendriks' struggles, Minnesota starters now have combined for a Major League-worst 7.09 ERA this season, and posted an 11.48 ERA in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.

"I let the team down completely today, both the pitching staff and the offense," said Hendriks, who turned in the shortest outing of his young career. "To our credit, we rallied and were in it 'till the last pitch. It's a credit to our guys. I think it's [only] a matter [of time before] we're going to turn it around."

Despite being outscored, the Twins actually outhit the Red Sox, 14-10, and fared fine with runners in scoring position, hitting .313 (5-for-16) in those situations. But Minnesota still left 13 runners on base, including the bases loaded three times.

The Twins had a chance to win it in their last at-bat, as Denard Span came up with the bases loaded and two outs against Sox closer Alfredo Aceves, but the center fielder struck out to end the game.

"I think we actually had more chances in this game than they did," designated hitter Justin Morneau said. "Kind of the story of the season so far -- one big hit away from being in the right spot, being on the winning side of one of those ballgames. I guess you could say the good thing is we had those opportunities, but we didn't take advantage of them."

Hendriks was hit hard, as Mike Aviles hit a three-run homer in a four-run second inning before Jarrod Saltalamacchia added a two-run single in the third. Hendriks later gave up a triple to Dustin Pedroia to open the fifth before giving up an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez that ended his night.

"We swung the bats really well and we're a very good hitting team," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Minnesota had a tough go of it trying to come back against our guys with our bats going the way they are."

After Hendriks' poor outing, the Twins saw an excellent performance from their bullpen, as Anthony Swarzak, Glen Perkins and Jared Burton combined to give up just one hit over the final five frames.

It allowed Minnesota to battle back against right-hander Clay Buchholz, as it scored on an RBI single from Alexi Casilla in the second before tacking on five runs in the sixth.

Joe Mauer provided a two-run single off right-hander Scott Atchison with the bases loaded to open the scoring in the sixth. The Red Sox then turned to southpaw Justin Thomas to face the left-handed-hitting Morneau, and he responded with an RBI double.

Thomas then hit Chris Parmelee in the helmet with a fastball to load the bases. Parmelee left the game for precautionary reasons, while Thomas was removed for right-hander Matt Albers.

Trevor Plouffe promptly brought home a run with a single to center field, but Morneau was held at third by third-base coach Steve Liddle. Sean Burroughs, who opened the inning with a strikeout, ended the rally by hitting into a double play.

The Twins nearly tied it in the eighth on a long fly ball hit by Morneau, but it died at the center-field warning track to end the inning. Minnesota had opportunities in the ninth against Aceves, but Span couldn't come through with the big hit with the bases loaded.

"We had opportunities," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We came up with some big hits tonight, but one not enough I guess. We missed a couple more opportunities. We threw everything out there we possibly had, but it didn't work out for us."

With the loss, the Twins suffered their third sweep out of six series played this season. It was also the club's fifth straight loss and dropped Minnesota to 5-14 on the year.

"It's tough to get swept at home," Casilla said, "but we've got a good team and we're going to keep competing."

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