Pelfrey's sinker-splitter combo stifles Red Sox

Twins righty continues impressive campaign with seven innings of one-run ball

Pelfrey's sinker-splitter combo stifles Red Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- Considering he wasn't even added to the rotation until Ervin Santana's 80-game suspension right before the start of the season, Mike Pelfrey's impressive start is one of the biggest surprises for the Twins this season.

Pelfrey kept it rolling against the Red Sox on Tuesday, giving up just one run on five hits over seven innings to help lead the Twins to a 2-1 win. Pelfrey improved to 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA overall and has a 2.29 ERA over his past eight outings.

"I think we all know how we got here, so it just shows how you never know how things are going to unfold," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "If he wasn't in it, I don't know how different things would be. It's nice we're getting depth one through five in the rotation."

Pelfrey also went seven innings for the fourth time in nine outings after reaching the seven-inning mark just twice in 34 starts in his first two seasons with the Twins. His splitter has been a difference-maker this year, as he has a quality secondary pitch to go along with his sinker.

He was hurt by his defense on the run he gave up, as Eduardo Escobar, a natural shortstop, misplayed a ball in left field from David Ortiz that went off the wall for a double. Mike Napoli scored Ortiz on a broken-bat flare to left field for Boston's only run of the night.

"I thought early I threw a lot of pitches," Pelfrey said. "There was a lot of foul balls, but I thought I was throwing a lot of strikes. I was going to my secondary stuff early. But then I kept going and starting more fastballs, and the big things was I was throwing them for strikes."

With Pelfrey going seven, it allowed the Twins to go to right-hander Blaine Boyer for the eighth. Boyer left with two on and two out for closer Glen Perkins, who was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam after an infield single from Pablo Sandoval. Perkins tossed a scoreless ninth to improve to 17-for-17 in save opportunities.

Perkins slams the door

"Blaine has been unbelievable, so when he comes into the game you feel pretty good," Pelfrey said. "And obviously when Perk comes in, he's been even better. So the confidence is pretty good when they come in and they shut it down again."

It helped the Twins to yet another series win, as they've won seven of their past eight series. They're a season-high nine games above .500 at 27-18, and have won 11 of 13 at home.

"That's our goal, to win series," third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. "Now we have a chance to sweep a pretty good team. We'll have fun tonight and think about it for about 10 more minutes and then we'll try to forget about it and try to win tomorrow."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.