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Red Sox 4, Twins 3: Boston Overcomes Small-Zone Struggles To Clinch Series Win

The Red Sox overcame the small zone of Tim McClelland, topping the Twins 4-3 to take a 2.5 game lead in the American League East.

After allowing Twins starter Francisco Liriano escape a bases loaded situation in the top of the first, the Red Sox endured one of the more frustrating innings in recent memory thanks to home plate umpire Tim McClelland. The trouble started from the very beginning, with Ben Revere drawing a five-pitch walk despite two of the pitches being in the zone and another on the border. With Revere running, Joe Mauer's ground ball found the hole vacated by Jed Lowrie, and the Twins were off to a hard start.

From there the Twins wouldn't pick up another hit, but between a sacrifice fly and three more walks with McClelland's zone becoming increasingly ridiculous, the Twins put up a two-spot and took the early lead. All-together, Bedard had five clear strikes turned into balls in the inning, and not a single borderline call went his way.

Bedard would tighten up, though, somehow managing to work around the dreadful zone, and not allow any more runs for the rest of his outing. His start was shortened by the inflated pitch count in the first and the cautionary approach the Sox are taking to him, but he picked up a lot of swings-and-misses, and eventually ended with six strikeouts. And it is surely to his credit that he never came close to putting his team in a bad situation by getting ejected.

Meanwhile, the Sox managed to back him up in the fifth. Needing little help from the questionable zone, an incredibly wild Francisco Liriano gave up one of his seven walks on the night to Jason Varitek, and was quickly made to pay for it by Darnell McDonald, who destroyed a hanging 1-2 slider, providing the Sox with a game-tying upper-deck homer to left.

A back-and-forth sixth inning saw the Sox take the lead and then immediately give it back, leaving Erik Bedard stuck with a no-decision, but the Sox would be the ones to strike last, if not in convincing fashion. With the bases loaded, zero outs, and David Ortiz coming to the plate, Ron Gardenhire went to lefty Phil Dumatrait. His choice proved wise as Dumatrait induced a weak dribbler in front of the plate, but ultimately unproductive. Dumatrait, attempting to field the ball and throw home for the forceout, managed only a faceplant. Ortiz was safe at first, Dustin Pedroia crossed home, and the Red Sox took the 4-3 lead they would not surrender.