MINNEAPOLIS — Brad Penny has received quite the welcome from the Boston Red Sox.
They signed him for $5 million this season, believing the two-time All-Star could rebound from shoulder problems. They’re scoring runs for him at an exceptional rate. Heck, they even take care of him when he’s sick.
Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis hit two-run doubles, and Red Sox started a 10-game road trip with a 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday — surviving a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning by pinch-hitter Joe Mauer.
Penny (5-1) gave up an early home run to Michael Cuddyer, but he worked his way into the sixth despite a sinus problem that caused an upset stomach. He was vomiting between innings.
“He handled it really well, and I actually thought he threw well even if he wasn’t sick,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “But you add on that — that’s pretty good.”
In nine starts by Penny, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Marlins and the Dodgers, the Red Sox have scored 58 runs. He didn’t get that kind of support in the other league.
“It’s a lot of fun with this team,” Penny said, later adding: “The breaks are going my way.”
Penny, who lowered his ERA to 5.96 after allowing six hits without a walk, watched his new team take a 5-1 lead against Francisco Liriano (2-6) in the fourth. Penny struck out seven.
Jacoby Ellsbury stretched his hitting streak to 20 games with a slow roller over the mound in the third that Liriano wasn’t in position to field, trying to stick his glove between his legs as the ball rolled toward second base.
With a lineup stocked with eight right-handers, Boston was quickly in control after that. Seven of the 11 hits Liriano gave up were pulled to left field, several zipping by third baseman Brian Buscher, who subbed for Joe Crede.
The Red Sox got 15 hits from the first six batters in the order plus an eighth-inning home run by Jeff Bailey, and Mike Lowell led the charge by going 4 for 5 with an RBI single during a rare day as the designated hitter while the struggling David Ortiz rested.
Liriano struck out seven in four innings, including three straight to finish the second after the Red Sox put runners on second and third. But he was done in, again, by the big inning after the White Sox hit him with a seven-run fourth last week in Chicago.
“I thought his slider at times was almost devastating, as witnessed when he had second and third and he punched everybody out,” Francona said. “But he left some up, and when he left balls up we attacked.”
After outscoring their opponents 43-9 over the previous four games, the Twins lost for just the second time in their last 10 home games. They put more than one man on base in only one inning until Mauer came up against closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth and pounded his 11th homer into the stacks of football seats in right-center field.
“I’m glad he came up where he could hit that ball as far as he wanted,” Francona said, “and he about did.”
Justin Morneau hit an RBI double and Jason Kubel followed with a run-scoring single to send Penny off and cut the lead to 5-3 with one out in the sixth, but Ramon Ramirez relieved and retired five straight batters. Hideki Okajima set up Papelbon for his 12th save.
The Twins were left wondering what’s wrong with Liriano, whose ERA rose to 6.42 after failing to reach the fifth for the second straight time.
“Once the game speeds up a little bit, he just starts winging it,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, adding: “He can get big league hitters out, really good hitters out, but you can’t just start winging it when the game gets tough.”
Notes: Boston’s John Smoltz is scheduled for his second rehab start on Tuesday, this time for Double-A Portland. He’s slated for three innings, perhaps 50 pitches. … The Twins have homered in eight straight games and have 37 this month, the second-most in the majors. … Red Sox SS Jed Lowrie, who had surgery on his left wrist five weeks ago, swung off a tee for the first time, slightly ahead of schedule. … Twins CF Carlos Gomez doubled to start the sixth, but he made a lot more contact than that. Gomez took a home run from Jason Varitek with a jumping, back-against-the-wall catch to end the top of the third. Then he sprawled forward to make a sliding grab of Dustin Pedroia’s line drive in the sixth. And before the game, Gomez needed two stitches to close a cut on his forehead when he banged it on a revolving door on his way in.