MINNEAPOLIS -- Andrew Miller had been, until last night, almost literally unhittable in the month of May.
Before entering a tie game Tuesday night, 6-6 in the ninth inning, Miller had faced 21 hitters since May 1 and retired all but one, while striking out and walking none.
And when Miller started the bottom of the ninth by striking out Trevor Plouffe and pinch-hitter Chris Colabello, it looked like more of the same.
But then came a ground ball single to left by Kurt Suzuki and, then, a two-run, walk-off homer by Chris Parmelee, turning a hard-fought tie into a crushing 8-6 loss for the Red Sox.
"It was a little bit surprising, as dominant as Andrew's been,'' allowed John Farrell. "He throws a fastball by him and then Parmelle get the head out on a good fastball that he drives out of here. He got the two quick outs on strikeouts, Suzuki rolls the ball by (Will Middlebrooks') dive at third and that was the difference in this one.
"Our bullpen did a very good job, I thought, but unfortunately, we came up a little bit short tonight.''
Farrell believed the fastball that Parmelee was a good pitch, but Miller disagreed.
"It wasn't,'' said Miller, shaking his head. "It was right into his swing path. It was hard and it was out of the zone, but it was still where he can hit it. After his first swing, my thought on the pitch was, 'I'm going to beat him with velocity on the next pitch. I tried to do that and he was ready for it.
"He just dropped the barrel down on that inside pitch. You always hear that lefthanders can hit the ball down and in. That's kind of the classic swing path and I threw it right into it. I can't afford to do that right there.''
The homer negated a strong comeback effort by the Red Sox, who trailed 5-1 after two innings and 6-2 as late as the fifth. They got a run in the sixth then three more in the seventh to pull even.
The worst part was that Miller had been so dominant of late, up to and including the first hitters in the ninth. For the last month or so, he's been as good as he's ever been in the big leagues, overpowering hitters while not struggling with his command.
Even Parmelee's homer, tough as it was, doesn't negate that great run the tall lefty has been on.
"I don't think it's over,'' Miller said. "I felt like I threw the ball well. I made a mistake -- I threw a ball that he can hit and I've got to be better than that on that particular pitch. I felt good throwing the ball and felt good out there. I don't feel like I was out there searching or looking for anything or didn't have competitive stuff. That's a different entity and that's not the case.
"I feel terrible; I let 24 guys down. One bad pitch, but I'll move on. Tomorrow, I'll be out there again.''
Parmelee had swung through a fastball on Miller's first pitch and Miller and catcher A.J. Pierzynski decided to go right back to it.
"I feel as good now as I've ever felt,'' said Miller. "I feel like I've been throwing the ball pretty well. He hit a fastball tonight and honestly, I felt like that was the best fastball I had. I was pretty locked in out there with my heater. You tip your cap and you move on.
''I'll be frustrated tonight, but tomorrow morning, I'll wake up and it's a new day.''
Miller was fourth Red Sox reliever of the night, following Chris Capuano, Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa, who together, contributed 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
Then, came the fateful ninth.
"It takes the air out of your sails quick,'' said Farrell. "We felt like we were gaining some momentum and had we gotten through that inning, felt like we were in good shape in terms of who was remaining in their bullpen, versus ours.''