MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Sandy Leon hit a pair of two-run homers, Chris Sale struck out 10 and the Boston Red Sox romped out of town with a 17-6 victory Sunday over the Minnesota Twins fueled by a season-high five homers and finished with a 10-run ninth.
Sale (3-2) reached double-digit strikeouts for the sixth straight time, stretching his major league-leading 2017 total to 73. In 2015, he tied Pedro Martinez’s major league mark by fanning at least 10 for eight starts in a row.
The lanky left-hander briefly lost the lead in a four-run fifth inning while the Twins batted around, but Leon broke the tie in the sixth with a two-out homer off Minnesota ace Ervin Santana (5-1).
The Sale-Santana matchup was just the third in the majors in the last 35 years with both pitchers carrying an ERA below 1.40 after at least six starts, but the duel was effectively done in the first inning when Dustin Pedroia went deep and Andrew Benintendi hit a two-run shot for the Red Sox.
Mookie Betts had a homer in the fifth, too, among his three hits. After starting the series with the fewest home runs in the in the major leagues, the Red Sox hit nine homers over the three games at Target Field, with three by Leon and two apiece by Benintendi and Chris Young.
Four of their five hits off Santana left the ballpark, pushing the right-hander’s ERA from 0.66 to 1.72. He has finished six innings in all seven starts this year.
Sale also went six innings, giving up four runs.
With a homer by Kennys Vargas and a sacrifice fly by Eddie Rosario, the Twins cut the lead to 7-6 in the eighth to trigger the arrival of closer Craig Kimbrel for a pair of strikeouts to end the inning with a runner on third.
The Red Sox wrapped up the breakout weekend for their bats by sending 16 men to the plate in the ninth inning against a Twins bullpen that’s been falling apart to record their season-high score for the second straight game.
Mitch Moreland drove in four runs, with an RBI single in the eighth and a two-run double and bases-loaded walk in the ninth.
Sale struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced, in his first turn since the tumultuous series against Baltimore when he threw behind Orioles star Manny Machado but avoided suspension. He gave up four hits and three walks.
The runs in the fifth scored on two sacrifice flies and a two-run single by Jorge Polanco, a rally that began with a hit by pitch that barely grazed Chris Gimenez’s leg. The Twins have scored 29 runs in 29 innings against Sale over their last six matchups.
NO HELP FROM HALEY
After right-hander Justin Haley was reinstated from the 10-day DL earlier than the Twins preferred because of recent struggles on the current staff and a shortage of prospects in Triple-A, the former Red Sox prospect acquired through the Rule 5 draft gave up three hits, one walk and three runs while recording one out.
Red Sox: With Moreland the only player who has started all 31 games, manager John Farrell plans to give him some rest during interleague play this week and use Hanley Ramirez at 1B with the DH unavailable.
Twins: The Twins had Byron Buxton back in CF from a two-day break, following a wall collision, but 2B Brian Dozier sat out for a second straight game due to a sprained left ankle suffered while fielding a ground ball. Dozier was walking significantly better on Sunday than on Saturday, so the Twins were holding off on a DL stint.
Red Sox: After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox begin the three-game series in Milwaukee on Tuesday. LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-1, 4.00 ERA) will pitch the opener, with RHP Wily Peralta (4-2, 4.88 ERA) starting for the Brewers.
Twins: Have a break on Monday before a three-game series that begins in Chicago vs. the White Sox on Tuesday, with LHP Hector Santiago (3-1, 2.78 ERA) taking the mound. RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-2, 5.02 ERA) will start for Chicago. Santiago pitched for the White Sox from 2011-13. Pelfrey was with the Twins from 2013-15.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)