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Lester, Red Sox take down Twins

Boston Red Sox’s Brock Holt steals third base ahead of the tag by Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar during the third inning Tuesday at Fenway Park in Boston. USA Today Sports

Tough way to start, but Lester settled in and worked 6 1/3 strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

There were some close calls on pitches in that inning, but Lester said he wasn’t mad at umpire Clint Fagan.

“Just more myself – just a lot of pitches that inning,” Lester said after winning a pitcher’s duel against Phil Hughes (7-3) and raising his record to above .500 (8-7) for the first time this season. “I just couldn’t get the leadoff hitter (Danny Santana) out (11 pitches before a single), a lot of foul balls. Then the walk to (Josh) Willingham (with two outs). Just fortunate enough to get back in that inning without any runs on the board.

“I’ve always been a guy that needs to let my emotions out. If they get in and linger too long, that’s when I feel it hinders me or makes me worse. Just gotta let them out. Nothing directed at anybody but me.”

Lester allowed one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out six.

Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said, “Lester was filthy tonight.”

The veteran left-hander, who entered this season with a 100-56 career record, is now 8-7 this season with the help of the bullpen and further great play by utility man extraordinaire Brock Holt.

The rookie made his debut as a center fielder, and he contributed two hits, a stolen base and a most unusual catch. Left fielder Jonny Gomes lost a ball in the twilight, but there was Holt, making a diving, tumbling catch to end the third inning.

“It’s huge,” Lester said of the catch. “It seems like Brock at some point each game has an effect on what’s going on. Two great at-bats tonight, he steals third and produces a run for us. Obviously another new position tonight – he does a great job ... I’m sure we’ll see him with catcher’s gear and on the mound at some point this year.”

Holt has started at five different positions this season, playing for the first time at four of them, including all three outfield spots. He is hitting .338.

The play? “I ran to the wrong spot. That’s why I had to do (a dive),” Holt said.

Four Boston relievers finished up, with Edward Mujica earning his second save because closer Koji Uehara was unavailable after pitching three consecutive days. Mujica threw a perfect ninth, striking out two, after right-hander Junichi Tazawa struck out the side in the eighth.

The Red Sox (33-38) won for the second consecutive night despite again struggling on offense. They have seven runs in the past four games, and Tuesday marked their 25th game with two runs or fewer. They are 2-for-28 with runners in scoring position over the past four games.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (two hits, the second almost a home run) doubled home a run in the first inning, and third baseman Xander Bogaerts made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly after Holt swiped third base in the third. That was enough to beat Hughes, who came in with a 6.56 ERA at Fenway Park, a mark compiled during his time with the New York Yankees.

“Normally in years past, that’s a feat to come into here and pitch a pretty good ballgame,” Hughes said. “Unfortunately tonight it just wasn’t in the cards. (We) couldn’t score enough runs to beat them.

“This is a dangerous team, especially here at home. To go out there and give a quality effort is big, but at the end of the day, you want wins, and that’s the name of the game.”