MINNEAPOLIS — Andrew Miller has been one of the more effective relief pitchers in baseball this season and, true to form, the Red Sox lefthander struck out the first two Minnesota Twins he faced in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
Kurt Suzuki grounded a single past a diving Will Middlebrooks at third base. Chris Parmelee, who was called up from the minors last week, was up next.
Lefthanded hitters were 2 for 22 against Miller with 11 strikeouts and he blew his first pitch, a 94-mile per hour fastball, right past a swinging Parmelee.
The next pitch, a 96-m.p.h. fastball, was down and in.
“It wasn’t exactly where we wanted it. But not a bad pitch,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
Parmelee lined it over the wall in right field and the Twins had an unexpected 8-6 walkoff victory.
“It was hard and down in the zone but still where he could hit it,” Miller said. “Can’t afford to do that right there. I feel terrible. I let 24 guys down. One bad pitch. But move on. Tomorrow I’ll be out there again.”
David Ortiz was 4 for 5 with two solo home runs and two RBI singles, helping the Sox come back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game at 6 in the seventh inning. But they could not score again.
Ortiz is 25 of 48 in 12 career games at Target Field with seven home runs and 20 RBIs.
The Sox had their modest win streak stopped at two. They join the lowly Houston Astros as the only teams yet to win three games in a row this season.
“Good teams get on streaks and that’s something we’ve got to do,” Dustin Pedroia said. “We’re playing better but we need to put some wins together.”
Glen Perkins (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the win, striking out Ortiz and Mike Napoli with Shane Victorino (3 for 5) on first base.
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy had a 3.09 earned run average, one of the lowest in the American League.
But there were signs that was a bit of a mirage. Peavy had allowed seven home runs and was averaging 5.2 walks per nine innings, the second-highest rate in the league.
Peavy also was stranding nearly 90 percent of the runners he put on base, something difficult to sustain. On a cold night in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the ice cracked as Peavy allowed six runs over 4⅓ innings.
“I wasn’t quite making pitches. What it comes down to is executing your pitches,” Peavy said. “The Twins have been doing good things against some good pitchers and I knew that coming in. I just didn’t make a whole lot of quality pitches. I’ve got to get better.”
The Twins sent eight batters to the plate in the second inning and five scored.
Parmelee walked with one out before a home run to left field by Eduardo Nunez, a Yankees castoff playing his fifth game with the Twins.
Eduardo Escobar singled before No. 9 hitter Danny Santana walked. Brian Dozier doubled to right field, driving in two runs.
After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Juan Nieves, Peavy allowed an RBI single by Joe Mauer.
The Twins knocked Peavy out of the game in the fifth.
Trevor Plouffe led off with a double to center field, the ball hitting off the out of town scoreboard. Suzuki’s single to left drove in Plouffe and that was it for Peavy, who walked off the mound with an ERA of 3.94.
Ortiz did all the damage against Minnesota starter Ricky Nolasco.
His first home run came in the first inning on a remarkable swing. Nolasco threw a curveball down and away, causing Ortiz to lunge at the ball. His top hand came off the bat but Ortiz hit the ball well enough to drive it into the stands in right center.
Nolasco had retired four straight before Ortiz came up again in the fourth inning. This time he belted a first-pitch fastball over the wall in right field.
That gave Ortiz 382 home runs as a member of the Red Sox, matching Jim Rice for third place in team history. Second-place Carl Yastrzemski is a ways off at 452.
Ortiz has 440 home runs in all, putting him alone in 40th place all-time. He is closing in on Dave Kingman, who had 442.
Ortiz was asked what he likes so much about hitting at Target Field.
“I just come play the game. I don’t care about the park,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz presented his wife, Tiffany, with a birthday cake before the game and he motioned to her after the home runs.
Victorino had a triple to start the sixth inning, his sinking liner getting past a diving Parmelee in right field. Ortiz then drove him in with an opposite-field single to left.
Nolasco went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. The Red Sox went to work on the Minnesota bullpen in the seventh inning.
Jackie Bradley Jr. singled to right field with two outs, as did Pedroia. Bradley scored when Victorino singled to center field.
The Twins went to lefthander Brian Duensing against Ortiz. Big Papi was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts against Duensing. But this time he worked the count full and slapped a single into right field to score Pedroia.
It was a terrific at-bat for Ortiz, who laid off a 2-and-2 slider that was just off the outside corner.
Duensing then pitched carefully to Mike Napoli, walking him on five pitches. That extended Napoli’s streak of reaching base safely to 32 games. When the Sox sent Jonny Gomes out to pinch hit against the lefthander, the Twins countered with righthander Matt Guerrier.
Gomes fouled off four two-strike pitches before drawing a walk on a 10-pitch at-bat to force in a run and tie the game at 6.
Pierzynski worked the count full against the fourth Minnesota reliever of the inning, Caleb Thielbar. But he struck out looking at fastball to end the inning.