BOSTON Carl Crawford looked like a minor-leaguer during his first month in a Red Sox uniform, but he seems to have found his swing in May.
His double off the Green Monster in the 11th inning scored pinch-runner Jose Iglesias from first base and gave the Red Sox a 2-1 win over the Twins on Monday night.
Josh Beckett turned in another outstanding performance, going seven scoreless innings. He allowed six hits and a walk with five strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 1.99.
The Sox took three out of four from the Twins as they finished the homestand with a 6-5 record and now are back to one game under .500, at 17-18. The last time they were a game under .500 was May 3, at 14-15, before losing the next three games.
Despite his dominance, Beckett -- who only allowed two runners to reach second base -- was unable to earn a win, as Alfred Aceves and Jonathan Papelbon combined to allow the Twins to tie the game at 1-1 in the eighth inning.
The Sox scored their first run in the fifth. Jason Varitek led off with a double to left, took third on Jacoby Ellsburys groundout and scored on Adrian Gonzalez' two-out single to left. It was Gonzalezs team-high 25th RBI of the season.
Aceves allowed a one-out single to Span in the eighth, then balking him to second. After Aceves got Matt Tolbert to foul out to Kevin Youkilis at third, manager Terry Francona brought in Papelbon to face left-handed hitting Jason Kubel, who entered the game hitting .351 (40-for-114) with three home runs. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Kubel singled to center, scoring Span and tying the game. It was Papelbons first blown save of the season.
In the 11th, with Jim Hoey on the mound for the Twins, J.D. Drew opened the inning flying out to center, before Jed Lowrie walked. With Iglesias pinch-running, Crawford doubled off the Wall in left-center, scoring Iglesias.
Hideki Okajima (1-0, 4.32 ERA) earned the win, going two innings, giving up two hits and two walks with three strikeouts, throwing a season-high 43 pitches.
Player of the Game: Carl Crawford
With one out in the 11th inning, Crawford crushed a 3-and-2, 95-mph fastball from Joey Hoey off the Wall in left-center, driving in pinch-runner Jose Iglesias from first base. The double extended Crawford's hitting streak to nine games, in which he is batting .361 (13-for-36).
Ive hit the Wall a few times since Ive been here, Crawford said. Not trying to. It kind of just goes over there.
I think hes certainly strong enough to use the Wall, manager Terry Francona said. I dont think he has that Adrian Gonzalez swing, or that he necessarily manipulates the bat that way. Nor do we really want him to. Because I think hes more of a reactionary-type hitter. But hes certainly strong enough to hit that wall when he hits the ball good.
It was Crawfords second game-winning hit of the season, with his RBI single on May 1 against the Mariners, and eighth of his career.
Honorable Mention: Josh Beckett
Beckett turned in another strong performance, going seven scoreless innings, giving up six hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
He was tremendous, Terry Francona said. One walk. Really pitched well. Come to kind of expect that, which is good for us. He feels good about himself. He was throwing a lot of strikes with all his pitches, and really effective.
Despite his performance, Beckett was not satisfied with his outing.
No, I felt like we played great defense. They probably made it look that way, he said. I kept mixing pitches in there but it was a struggle to find my curveball early. I felt like I got away with a few mistakes. The hardest hit balls that they hit were at guys.
Four of his five strikeouts came on curveballs.
I felt like I got a little better feel for it later on, he said.
Although he did not earn a win, he lowered his ERA to 1.99 from 2.35. In seven starts this season, Beckett has four no-decisions. Over his last two outings, he has pitched a combined 11 13 scoreless innings. His last decision, a win, came on April 16, his third start of the season.
We get paid to win games and a team win is way better than me getting a win or a loss or whatever, he said. Ill finish up 2-1 if we win the rest of my starts. Id be completely happy with that. I dont have an arbitration case to win.
With seven scoreless innings from Beckett in this game, Sox starters have nine scoreless outings this season, most in the majors.
The Goat: Jim Hoey
With the Twins looking for a win -- hard for them to find in any situation so far this season -- to split the series, Hoey (0-1) entered for the 11th inning and allowed the Sox to score the winning run. After getting his first batter, J.D. Drew, to flyout, he gave up a walk to Jed Lowrie. With Jose Iglesias pinch-running, and a 3-and-2 count to Carl Crawford, Hoey allowed a double to Crawford on the seventh pitch of the at-bat to score Iglesias.
Hoeys line: one-third of an inning pitched, one hit, one run, one walk. It raised his ERA to 6.75. It was his first loss since Sept. 3, 2007, at Tampa Bay while with the Orioles.
With the loss, the Twins fell to 12-21.
We pitched very good, said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. To hold that team down in this ballpark two runs, thats pretty damn good pitching.
It was a crisp ballgame but unfortunately we came up short offensively. It was a heck of a ballgame. In this ballpark to have a 1-1 game going into extra innings is pretty amazing, to tell you the truth, and says a lot about both pitching staffs. But they finally got the last at-bat and they got the last whack at it.
Turning Point: Crawford gets clutch
Both teams had opportunities to score over the last four innings of the game. But it wasnt until Crawfords blast off the Wall in the 11th, scoring Iglesias, that the Sox could take a deep breath.
Crawford thought his ball might have had enough to get over the Wall.
I wasnt sure but I was definitely hoping, he said. So well take it.
By the Numbers: .077
Although the Sox won the game, they struggled to hit with runners in scoring positing, going 1-for-13 (.077) in such situations. They have had difficulty all season finding consistent production hitting with runners in scoring position. Overall, they are 72-for-330 (.218) in such situations this season.
Yeah, I dont think we knew that, Dustin Pedroia said. Were just playing. We got enough to win the game.
Quote of Note
I didnt want this to be another like my last start, as far as what time we got done with that one.
--Josh Beckett. In his last start, Wednesday night, the Sox lost in 13 innings to the Angels at 2:45 Thursday morning, with a 2-hour, 35-minute rain delay in between.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen