MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Staring at five infielders, Minnesota Twins rookie Max Kepler was just trying to get a ball into the outfield to score Joe Mauer in the 10th inning.
Kepler’s hit went a lot further than that and provided a big lift for the Twins.
Kepler’s first major league homer was a three-run shot Sunday that cleared the center-field fence and gave Minnesota a 7-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
“I put my head down running to first, and then I saw it go (over) the wall and was like, that was me?” Kepler said.
Mauer drew a leadoff walk in the 10th from Matt Barnes (2-3) and was sacrificed to second by Trevor Plouffe. Brian Dozier singled off the glove of shortstop Xander Bogaerts, sending Mauer to third.
Boston brought in outfielder Mookie Betts and played in with a five-man infield, but Kepler made that all moot when the rookie from Germany gave Minnesota its fifth walk-off win of the season, the third on a home run.
“It’s a sound move, but it’s not something a hitter is accustomed to seeing,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “So you probably overthink it a little bit instead of putting a good swing on the ball. Thankfully he did it with two strikes.”
Barnes hadn’t allowed an extra-base hit in his last nine appearances and had a 2.31 ERA and .181 opponents’ batting average in his last 18 games.
“In a situation like that, I’m 100 percent going for a strikeout,” Barnes said.
Michael Tonkin (2-2) allowed a single to Bogaerts in the top of the inning but struck out David Ortiz with Bogaerts at second.
Miscues on defense marked big innings for both teams. Boston’s three-run eighth was aided by two Minnesota throwing errors.
Bogaerts, who had four hits in each of the first two games of the three-game series, made two errors after entering the game with only two all season.
He misplayed a tough hop in the second inning and then hesitated on a throw to first with two outs in the sixth, bouncing the throw. The Twins wound up scoring twice.
“The first one was a bit tough, kind of do-or-die,” Bogaerts said. “That was a bit tough, but the other one was kind of unacceptable. That was an easy out right there.”
The Twins were awarded right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers.
Minnesota transferred pitcher Phil Hughes to the 60-day disabled list with a broken leg, and reliever J.T. Chargois was optioned to Triple-A after the game. Chargois made one appearance in his first stint in the majors, giving up five runs Saturday and getting only two outs.
Ramirez, 27, has a 5.79 ERA in 10 games this season for Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs. He’s pitched in 79 career major league games with a 2.42 ERA.
Red Sox: Manager John Farrell said outfielder Brock Holt has made “steady progress” in his recovery from a concussion and could return during the team’s 10-game homestand. Farrell said Holt is taking medication to control headaches. … C Ryan Hanigan, on the disabled list since June 5 with a neck strain, is going through treatment and Farrell said he’s hopeful Hanigan will begin some baseball activities when the team returns to Boston. Farrell said Hanigan has dealt with the issue in the past, as well.
Twins: OF Danny Santana could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Monday, according to Molitor. Santana has been out since May 30 with a left hamstring strain. Molitor said Santana has been running and hitting without any issues. … OF Miguel Sano (left hamstring strain) has progressed to hitting off a tee and jogging on the field.
Red Sox: LHP David Price (7-3, 4.63 ERA) opens Boston’s home series Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, who send RHP Chris Tillman (8-1, 3.01) to the mound. Price has lost his last two starts despite giving up just four earned runs in 15 innings.
Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-4, 5.17 ERA) will start for Minnesota when it opens a three-game series at the Angels on Monday. Los Angeles will counter with RHP Jered Weaver (5-5, 5.56). Nolasco allowed a season-high 11 hits in a no-decision against Miami in his last start, giving up five runs over 5 2/3 innings.
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