World Series

Pablo López strikes out 8 in 6 innings as Twins beat Red Sox 3-1 for 12th straight victory

Pablo López strikes out 8 in 6 innings as Twins beat Red Sox 3-1 for 12th straight victory

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Pablo López struck out eight in six strong innings, Max Kepler homered and the Minnesota Twins extended their winning streak to 12 games with a 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

The Twins have the longest winning streak in the majors this season. Minnesota’s run matches the team’s winning streak from late in the 1980 season, which is the second-longest in Twins history. The club record for consecutive wins in 15, from June 1991, which is the last season Minnesota won the World Series.

“It’s been fun, and I think you are not seeing guys try to do more than we know what to do. That’s always the biggest thing,” López said.

Kepler and Willi Castro each had two hits, Carlos Correa had two RBIs. Closer Jhoan Duran pitched a scoreless eighth inning against the middle of the Red Sox order, and Cole Sands pitched a scoreless final inning for his second save.

“From the outside, people probably wouldn’t have guessed it would be Cole closing it there,” reliever Steven Okert said. “Coaching staff having confidence in all of us is great.”

Wilyer Abreu and Dominic Smith had two hits apiece for Boston, which has lost three straight games.

Kepler homered off Cam Booser (0-1) in the fourth inning. Booser was the third of five pitchers used in a bullpen game.

Castro singled leading off the sixth, advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches by Justin Slaten and scored on a sacrifice fly by Correa for a 3-1 lead.

Briefly tended to by trainers after covering first base in the second inning and bumping into the runner after he touched the bag, López allowed five hits and struck out seven of the last 12 hitters he faced.

“To really bunch a bunch of good games together, you need guys to just take the mound and lead the way. And Pablo was excellent today,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.

“No one wants to be the guy that makes the streak stop in any way, shape or form. I think I just took advantage of the momentum, the good thing that we have going on and I kind of let it take over me and then just let things flow,” López said.

López struck out Rafael Devers on a high fastball with a tying run on third to end the fifth. Devers, who stared at home plate umpire Lance Barksdale for several seconds after a called second strike two pitches earlier, slammed his helmet in disgust.

“That’s part of the game of course, when you go out there, to work out an at-bat and you get one called a strike inside like that, it gets you out of your gameplan. You have to keep battling in that at-bat. You have to keep fighting,” Devers said through an interpreter.

Devers struck out against Okert with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. This time the bat got spiked.

Boston has gone six straight games without a home run, its longest streak since six in a row April 23-28, 2022.

Smith nearly ended that streak leading off the seventh, but his line drive hit high off the wall in right field. The carom was played perfectly by Kepler, who fired a strike to Correa at second. Seeing he was easily out Smith didn’t bother sliding.

“We have put some good at-bats, sometimes some good pressure, but not enough,” manager Alex Cora said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Vaughn Grissom did not play Saturday, one day after he returned from the 10-day injured list (hamstring). The plan is for him to start Sunday and both upcoming games in Atlanta. … Nick Pivetta, on the 15-day disabled list since April 6 with a right elbow flexor strain, is expected to be activated for a Wednesday start in Atlanta. He made a Triple-A rehab start Thursday.

UP NEXT

The teams wrap up the three-game series Sunday with Boston RHP Cooper Criswell (2-1, 1.65) and Minnesota RHP Joe Ryan (1-1, 3.38) the scheduled starters.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

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