BOSTON -- Give John Lackey all the credit in the world for allowing the Sox to win in walk-off fashion in the 10th inning.
No one much remembered Lackey at the end, not after David Ortiz tied the game by wrapping a laser shot around the Pesky pole with one out in the bottom of the 10th and Mike Napoli followed with a blast into the center-field bleachers that gave the Red Sox a thrilling 2-1 win over the Twins Wednesday afternoon and a three-game series sweep. But make no mistake: It was Lackey's nine sterling shutout innings to begin the day -- matching an almost-as-strong effort by Minnesota's Kyle Gibson -- that enabled the feeble-hitting Sox to escape with the victory, and the sweep.
Superb pitching and sorry hitting had been the theme in the first two games of the series, which Boston won by scores of 1-0 and 2-1, and that continued Wednesday. But finally in the top of the 10th - with both starting pitchers gone -- some offense showed up.
Chris Parmelee, who had three of the two teams' seven hits on Wednesday, parked a solo shot into the Sox bullpen off Koji Uehara with two outs. The home run ended a 21-inning scoreless streak for Uehara.
But Ortiz and Napoli would have the final say, going back-to-back in the bottom of the inning off Casey Fien.
Lackey was stuck with a no-decision, although he pitched his best game of the season. He shut down the Twins through nine innings, allowing just three hits and a walk. He struck out nine on the day. He walked off the mound in the ninth pumping his fist as his final out came courtesy of a grounder to second base -- his 105th pitch of the game.
Just one player on the Twins, Parmelee, reached second base -- on a wild pitch -- against Lackey.
Still, Gibson was just as good through seven innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight. Gibson didn't walk a batter. The lone hit Gibson allowed was a ground-rule double to Daniel Nava to right-center field in the fifth inning.
Brian Duensing pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before Jared Burton finished off the ninth on one pitch. Then the Twins turned to Fein to close it . . . and, instead, Ortiz and Napoli made winners of the Sox.
If not Lackey.