By Rhett Bollinger and Patrick Donnelly
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was billed as a pitchers' duel between two aces with sub-1.40 ERAs, but it ended up being a slugfest at Target Field on Sunday. Chris Sale outpitched Ervin Santana, who tied a career high by serving up four homers, before the Red Sox broke out with a 10-run ninth inning in a 17-6 win over the Twins.
Santana entered with a 0.66 ERA in six starts, but after allowing six runs in six innings, it went up to 1.72. It was the first time Santana allowed more than one run in a start this year, and he fell to 5-1.
Sale also scuffled, surrendering a season-high four runs on four hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts. It was Sale's sixth straight start reaching double-digits in strikeouts, but his recent struggles against the Twins continued, as he has a 6.63 ERA over his past 10 starts vs. Minnesota. But he still picked up the win, improving to 3-2 with a 1.92 ERA.
"I felt good," Sale said. "I just had a good rhythm going. This is a team I've seen quite a bit before and not been very good on my end, so I wanted to come in here and buck that trend."
Sale was helped by homers from Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Benintendi in the first, a solo blast from Mookie Betts in the fifth and a go-ahead two-run shot from Sandy Leon in the sixth. All four came off Santana, who gave up four homers for the third time in his career and for the first time since May 23, 2013.
"They're very aggressive," Santana said. "Every time you fall behind in the count, they make good swings, and you saw that happen today. Next time, I have to throw more strikes."
The Twins made it close with two runs in the eighth against reliever Matt Barnes, with Kennys Vargas connecting on a solo homer and Eddie Rosario bringing home a run on a sacrifice fly after a wild pitch. With the game-tying run at third with one out, the Red Sox brought in closer Craig Kimbrel, who struck out pinch-hitters Joe Mauer and Max Kepler to get out of the jam.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Super Sandy: After the Twins tied it with a four-run fifth, Santana promptly walked Ramirez on four pitches to open the sixth. It came back to haunt him three batters later, as Leon connected on a two-run homer to right with two outs. It was Leon's second homer in as many days, and his third of the year before he added his fourth later.
"The two-run homer as we responded to their four-run inning, that might be the swing of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It swings the momentum back to us and gives us the lead once again."
HBP takes wind out of Sale: Sale cruised through the first four innings, but he hit Chris Gimenez on the back foot with a slider that opened the floodgates in the fifth. Rosario reached on a bloop single before a bunt hit from Byron Buxton loaded the bases. Ehire Adrianza plated a run with a sacrifice fly before Jorge Polanco slapped a two-run single. Vargas tied it with a sacrifice fly to right, but Eduardo Escobar struck out with two runners on to end the inning.
"We found a way to scratch and claw," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We put together an inning where we didn't hit it all over the field, but we were able to get it back to even."
"I thought he just missed it. It happens in this game, but it's unfortunate it happened in that moment. I'm still a little fired up about it now." -- Mauer, on a called third strike against Kimbrel with the tying run at third in the eighth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The meeting between Santana and Sale was only the third time since 1982 that two pitchers with ERAs under 1.40 started against each other, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (minimum of six starts).
BUXTON MAKES FOUR-STAR CATCH
Twins center fielder Buxton made an impressive running catch in the left-center-field gap to rob Bogaerts of extra bases to end the seventh. Buxton had 4.9 seconds to go 92 feet, giving it a catch probability of only 35 percent, which is a four-star play, according to Statcast™.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Boston has a day off before traveling to Milwaukee to start a three-game series with the Brewers at Miller Park. On Tuesday at 7:40 p.m. ET, left-hander Drew Pomeranz (3-1, 4.00) will look for his third victory in as many starts.
Twins: After an off-day on Monday, the Twins head to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox that begins on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Left-hander Hector Santiago (3-1, 2.78 ERA) is set to face his former team, and he limited the A's to three runs over six innings last time out.