MINNEAPOLIS — The Red Sox’s offense enjoyed Boston’s weekend trip to Minnesota, ruining an anticipated pitching duel Sunday by securing the series finale with a season-high 17 runs.
Boston scored 10 runs in the ninth inning after the Twins closed within one run in the eighth, and the Red Sox pulled away for a 17-6 win at Target Field.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale struck out 10, but the pitching battle with Ervin Santana never materialized as the Red Sox hit five home runs.
Sale (3-2) allowed a season-high four runs on four hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced.
“I wish I had done a little bit better than I did today, but when you have a lineup like this doing what they did today, you can afford that,” Sale said.
Sandy Leon hit two two-run homers for Boston, and Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts also went deep. Betts finished with three hits, and Mitch Moreland added two hits and four RBIs.
The Red Sox hit nine home runs in the three-game series, establishing a season high with 11 runs Saturday before topping that mark Sunday. They walked a season-high nine times on Sunday and had 31 hits in the past two games.
“I think we can we do that anytime,” Leon said. “We got good hitters. We just have to keep fighting every at-bat and just let it happen.”
Leon hit his second homer of the game in the 10-run ninth. Moreland and Chris Young each drove in two runs with doubles, and Bogaerts added a two-run triple. Moreland walked with the bases loaded to cap the big inning.
“It’s just one of those things where you’re trying to keep it close there,” said Minnesota manager Paul Molitor, who had to use three relievers in the inning. “It just got away from us.”
Santana (5-1) surrendered six runs, five hits and three walks in six innings. He registered four strikeouts.
Sale and Santana entered the game with two of the top three ERAs in the American League. According to STATS, it was the fourth matchup since the mound was lowered in 1969 that involved starting pitchers with at least six starts and an ERA below 1.40.
The Twins have had success against Sale, seeing the lanky left-hander in their division previously with the Chicago White Sox. Sale entered with a 5.82 ERA at Target Field, and he has given up 29 runs in his last 29 innings against Minnesota after Sunday’s outing.
Boston blitzed Santana, who had a 0.66 ERA, with three runs in the first inning, including two homers.
Pedroia started the scoring with a solo homer to left. Xander Bogaerts was hit by a pitch, and Benintendi followed with a deep homer to the plaza in right field estimated at 438 feet.
“He’s a good hitter,” Santana said. “Every pitch you throw, he’s basically on it.”
Betts led off the fifth with a homer, and Leon’s first homer was the fourth against Santana among five hits he allowed. Santana had allowed just two home runs in 41 innings entering the game.
The Twins scored twice in the eighth to get within a run, but Boston closer Craig Kimbrel entered and struck out pinch hitters Joe Mauer and Max Kepler to leave a runner at second. Kimbrel was set to record a five-out save before the Red Sox’s big finish. Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless ninth.
Sale was able to breathe a sigh of relief after the big ninth-inning splurge.
“That game is down to the wire. It’s nails,” Sale said. “You’re talking about a one-run game on the road, the deciding game of the series and going out there. Having Craig come in, that was huge. He got two big punch-outs right there and then on top of all that, to go out there and score 10 runs in that last inning, it just shows the fight, the determination, that never-quit attitude we talk about. I’m appreciative it’s in my corner.”
NOTES: Minnesota 2B Brian Dozier was held out for the second straight game with a sprained ankle. The team is hopeful that Dozier will be ready to play Tuesday when the Twins open a series at the Chicago White Sox. … Twins CF Byron Buxton returned to the lineup after missing two games, and he went 1-for-3. He was sore and had headaches from colliding with the outfield wall on Thursday. … The Twins activated RHP Justin Haley from the disabled list. Haley missed 10 games with right biceps tendinitis. … Boston manager John Farrell said OF Brock Holt (vertigo) felt good after a rehab start Saturday at Double-A Portland. Holt played DH and was 1-for-3. He will move to Pawtucket to continue his rehab assignment on Monday. … The Red Sox travel to Milwaukee for an interleague series starting Tuesday. Farrell said DH Hanley Ramirez will see time at first base during the series.