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Beckett, Ortiz lead Red Sox over Twins 11-2

By Jon Krawczynski, The Associated Press
Jim Mone | AP | BDN
Jim Mone | AP | BDN
Boston Red Sox's Mike Aviles celebrates in the dugout after his solo home run off Minnesota Twins pitcher Matt Maloney in the fourth inning Tuesday, April 24, 2012, in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — Josh Beckett hollering at umpires and David Ortiz launching homers deep into the right field seats.

The Boston Red Sox are starting to look like their old selves in Minnesota.

Beckett struck out five and allowed two runs in six sharp innings and Ortiz homered with three RBIs to lead the Red Sox to an 11-2 romp over the Twins on Tuesday night.

Beckett (2-2) allowed two runs and five hits and Mike Aviles went 4 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs for the Red Sox, who had no trouble with this big lead after squandering a nine-run advantage in a loss to the New York Yankees on Saturday.

Beckett jawed with home plate umpire Adrian Johnson after a rough first inning, but the fiery Texan finished his evening by striking out the side in the sixth.

“He was just missing with some pitches and got a little frustrated, possibly, but it really turned up his competitive fluids,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “He wasn’t going to be denied the victory. He was terrific.”

Beckett had a heck of a time in the first inning, needing 37 pitches to grind through it. He walked three straight hitters, including Justin Morneau with the bases loaded, to make it 3-1.

Beckett gave several long looks toward Johnson on a couple of close pitches to Josh Willingham and Danny Valencia. After getting Valencia to ground out to end the inning, Beckett let out a scream as he walked off the mound and yelled “That’s (expletive) five outs!” in Johnson’s direction. As Johnson started to walk toward Beckett, Valentine briefly left the dugout to diffuse the situation.

“I was kind of … trying to add to the noise just in case any magic words came out it wouldn’t necessarily be attributed to Josh,” Valentine said. “He was into it. I haven’t seen Josh like that. It really seemed like this was a game he really wanted.”

The only trouble Beckett gave the rest of the way was to the Twins offense. Willingham doubled home Jamey Carroll in the fifth, but that was all Minnesota could muster.

Beckett quickly squashed any line of questions surrounding Johnson.

“Sometimes I think you can waste too much energy with that stuff,” Beckett said of pitching with emotion. “Today apparently it helped our guys though because they scored 11 runs.”

Ortiz’s monster, two-run shot in the third inning landed on the stairway in right field — an estimated 429 feet — to make it 5-1. It was the continuation of an incredible start for the 36-year-old slugger, who is hitting .444 with three homers and 15 RBIs. His 28 hits are a career-high for April.

“I didn’t learn how to hit yesterday,” Ortiz said with a smile. “I’ve been doing this for years. Just taking what they give you.”

Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and two RBIs and Scott Atchison and Matt Albers pitched three innings of scoreless relief.

The Red Sox led the Yankees 9-0 after five innings on Saturday, but their beleaguered bullpen gave it all back and then some, including consecutive seven-run frames in a loss that Valentine termed rock bottom.

“We had the one at home and we let it get away,” Valentine said. “I don’t think that’s going to be allowed again.”

They have rebounded with two strong performances in Minnesota, which has lost four straight and is sinking plenty fast itself.

Nick Blackburn left his previous start in the sixth inning with stiffness in his right shoulder and was skipped the next time through the rotation. He gave up three runs and five hits in the first and needed 71 pitches to get through three innings.

Blackburn (0-2) gave up five runs and eight hits and Matt Maloney didn’t fare any better, getting tagged for five runs and eight hits in 1 2-3 innings.

Willingham had two hits and an RBI for Minnesota.

“Our starters have to do a better job of getting deeper into the games, and we’ve got to get the ball out of those bullpen guys’ hands or they’re all not going to make it through this year,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

NOTES: OF Carl Crawford flew from Fort Myers, Fla., to Boston for an examination on his strained left elbow. Valentine said Crawford wants to get a second opinion and it would remain a concern until he was deemed 100 percent. … The Twins placed INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the minor league DL with a high ankle sprain. GM Terry Ryan said Nishioka could miss 10 days with the injury. … The Twins planned to call up OF Ben Revere from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday to replace Willingham, who is taking three days of paternity leave while his wife has the couple’s third child. … The Red Sox will send struggling RHP Clay Buchholz (1-1, 9.00 ERA) to the mound to go for the series sweep against Minnesota’s RHP Liam Hendriks (0-0, 3.86 ERA) on Wednesday. Buchholz gave up six earned runs and five home runs in a loss to the Yankees last week.

MARINERS 7, TIGERS 4: There are moments when Max Scherzer looks like the dominant pitcher the Detroit Tigers hope he can be — such as the second inning against Seattle, when he struck out the side.

Then there are those stretches when Scherzer can’t find the plate and can’t keep hitters off the bases.

“I was falling behind, and you can’t pitch in the big leagues if you do that,” Scherzer said. “I need to get stuff in the zone earlier in the count.”

Scherzer struggled through five erratic innings, and the Detroit Tigers lost to the Mariners 7-4 on Tuesday night in Detroit. Alex Liddi had a career-high three hits, including a solo homer, and Seattle snapped a four-game losing streak.

Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila homered for the Tigers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome an early 4-0 deficit. Michael Saunders drove in three runs for Seattle.

Jason Vargas (3-1) pitched six innings for the Mariners, allowing four runs and six hits. He struck out four and walked one. Three relievers finished, with Brandon League pitching a hitless ninth for his sixth save.

Scherzer (1-2) allowed five runs and 10 hits. He struck out six and walked two.

“His stuff was unbelievable, he just couldn’t control it,” said Avila, Detroit’s catcher. “That’s what we need to do — get him to a point where he’s got this stuff and gets into a groove. We’ve seen what he can do when he pitches like that.”

Liddi’s homer — his first of the season — made it 6-4 in the seventh. The Italian-born third baseman made his debut last September and had only one two-hit game before Tuesday. He singled in the first and fifth before his home run.

Scherzer labored through a 25-pitch first inning, allowing an RBI single by Jesus Montero to open the scoring.

The right-hander appeared to steady himself, fanning Saunders to end the inning and striking out the side in the second, but the Mariners scored three in the third. Kyle Seager drove in a run with a single, and Saunders added a two-run double.

“Scherzer’s command wasn’t good,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “The command isn’t consistent and he’s got to fix that. Some guys have a tougher time repeating their deliveries, and maybe he is one of those.”

Detroit’s Brennan Boesch hit an RBI single in the bottom of the third, and Avila made it 4-3 with a two-run homer the following inning — a 432-foot shot into the shrubbery over the wall just to the right of dead center field. Prince Fielder was on base for that home run after hitting an infield single. His comebacker bounced off Vargas and toward the line between home and third, and the big Detroit slugger hustled down to first.

But the Tigers could never pull even. Miguel Olivo hit a run-scoring groundball in the fifth for Seattle before Cabrera answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning. Then Liddi restored a two-run advantage.

Cabrera and Fielder started the bottom of the eighth with singles off Tom Wilhelmsen, but Ichiro Suzuki made a jumping catch in front of the wall in right-center on Delmon Young’s flyball.

“I just looked up and saw Ichie make this grab and was like, ‘Thank God he’s out there,'” Wilhelmsen said.

Cabrera went to third on that out, but Jhonny Peralta struck out looking on a breaking ball. After a passed ball allowed Fielder to move to second as the tying run, Avila struck out swinging.

Saunders hit an RBI double in the ninth.

NOTES: Detroit RHP Al Alburquerque (right elbow surgery) was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. … Opponents are hitting .475 on balls in play off Scherzer this season, according to STATS, LLC. … The Mariners were playing the opener of a 10-game road trip. … Leyland remained stuck on 1,598 wins, one victory shy of catching Tommy Lasorda for 17th on the career list. … Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (1-1) takes the mound Wednesday night against Detroit LHP Adam Wilk (0-2).

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