Red Sox-Twins Preview

The Minnesota Twins' turnaround started with a five-game winning streak, and now superb pitching is a big reason why they're on the verge of matching it.

The Twins look to improve on the AL's best home record by sweeping a series from the Red Sox for the first time in nine years Wednesday.

Minnesota (27-18) has reeled off 18 wins in 24 games, outscoring opponents 21-7 while winning four straight. The Twins have compiled a sterling 1.75 ERA over that stretch with the starters completing at least seven innings in each game.

Mike Pelfrey was sharp for seven Tuesday, allowing one run in a 2-1 victory over Boston (21-25) as Minnesota improved to 11-2 in its last 13 games as host to push its record to 16-6 at Target Field.

"Like a lot of guys have been doing in that rotation, they find another gear," manager Paul Molitor said.

Molitor's hoping Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.50 ERA) can do the same in an effort to help the Twins sweep this three-game set from the Red Sox, a feat they haven't accomplished since June 13-15, 2006, at the Metrodome.

Hughes won his first three May starts despite a 5.12 ERA, but he's allowed two runs in seven innings in each of his past two - including Friday's 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on a run Aaron Thompson gave up in the eighth.

"I thought tonight could've been seven or eight shutout for me if a few things happened different for me that inning," Hughes said of giving up two runs in the fourth. "But overall, I feel like I've been throwing the ball OK. My stuff has been very mediocre so I've had to rely on location and getting outs that way."

The right-hander had a 1.93 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox last season, striking out 14 in as many innings.

Trevor Plouffe is 7 for 16 with five RBIs in his past four games, collecting four hits in this series. He came through with an RBI double in the first inning Tuesday after connecting for a three-run shot as Minnesota scored six times in the second of Monday's 7-2 victory.

He's hitting .351 (13 for 37) with two homers and eight RBIs in his last nine home meetings with Boston, but he's 3 for 16 over the past three seasons versus scheduled starter Rick Porcello.

The Red Sox, losers of five of seven, are looking for Porcello (4-3, 5.07) to bounce back from a dreadful outing. The right-hander surrendered seven runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 12-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.

He was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA over his previous four outings.

"I take full responsibility for the loss," Porcello told MLB's official website. "That was completely on me and I've got to be better."

Porcello is 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA over his last eight starts at Minnesota. However, he surrendered six runs and two homers and was pulled with two outs in the fourth of an 11-4 home loss with Detroit on Sept. 26.

David Ortiz doubled Tuesday for his only hit in 16 at-bats over his past four games. He's a .338 career hitter against his former team, and is 10 for 29 with two homers against Hughes.


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