BOSTON - The pre-game focus was on relief pitching, as the Red Sox placed a closer on the DL for the second time in as many days.
But that wasn't the reason for the team's 6-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins. The Red Sox managed just three hits off Twins starter Scott Diamond through seven full innings while their infield defense fell apart for three unearned runs.
Ryan Dempster deserved a far better fate as he pitched into the eighth inning. Dempster allowed a run in the fifth and another, on a solo homer, in the seventh, but received no offensive backing from his lineup.
Diamond didn't walk a batter and never allowed a baserunner as far as second base.
The lone run for the Red Sox came in the ninth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off with a solo shot into the Monster Seats.
Meanwhile, the Sox lost two more players to injury. Catcher David Ross and third baseman Will Middlebrooks collided while chasing a pop fly in foul territory between third and home in the fifth inning. Ross left the game a batter later with a bruised left quad while Middlebrooks came out two innings later with pain his right side.
Pedro Ciriaco replaced Middlebrooks at third and was charged with two errors in a sloppy, miscue-filled eighth inning that led to four runs for the Twins.
A third error in the eighth was assessed to Saltalamacchia, whose throw to first on what should have been the back end of a double play got away from first baseman Mike Napoli.
STAR OF THE GAME: Scott Diamond
Diamond dazzled with seven shutout innings, during which he allowed just three baserunners -- all on singles, with no walks -- and didn't allow one to move past first base.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Dempster
Though he was charged with the loss and officially gave up four runs, only two were earned. Dempster gave the Red Sox some length on a night when they needed it, pitching into the eighth, the first time a Red Sox starter had gone that long in a game since April 25.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Pedro Ciriaco
Ciriaco came into the game as a replacement for the injured Will Middlebrooks (ribs) and had a rough go of it, making two errors on consecutive chances in the the eighth, leading to two unearned runs for the Twins. Ciriaco also struck out in his only plate appearance.
TURNING POINT: The tone was set early as the Red Sox put the leadoff man on base in each of the first three innings against Diamond, only to come away with nothing to show for it.
BY THE NUMBERS: Depmster was charged with a balk in the fifth inning -- just the third of his career, which spans 16 seasons and 554 games.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "That was uncharacteristic of Pedro tonight; he's shown to be a very dependable defender. Two miscues are unlike him. Long-term, we don't think that Will's situation is more than day-to-day at this point." - John Farrell.