Nathan sets Twins' save record in 5-2 win over Red Sox

Minnesota Twins center fielder Denard Span, left, makes a falling catch of a shallow fly ball off the bat of Boston's' Kevin Youkilis Monday in Minneapolis. Backing up Span is right fielder Ryan Doumit. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan watched his final pitch Wednesday get hit to Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The shortstop threw to first baseman Michael Cuddyer to wrap up a 5-2 victory over Boston, and Nathan pumped a fist, then clasped his hands over his mouth.

It took a long time - seven-plus seasons and one threatening elbow injury - for Nathan to get to that point. But he made it. The 255th save of his Twins career put him alone atop the franchise leaders, breaking the tie he shared with Rick Aguilera since July 26.

"With the surgery and the bumps in the road, it made it mean even more for me to be able to come back and accomplish this," said Nathan, who missed all of last season because of Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery and lost the role as closer earlier this season before replacing Matt Capps shortly after the All-Star break.

Cuddyer was the first of many players to hug Nathan as the Twins lined up for the post-victory handshake. The accomplishment was acknowledged on the videoboard, leading to loud applause from many among the announced crowd of 40,491.

"Getting number 255, it's an honor for me to pass such a great pitcher in Aggie," Nathan said. "A great human being. Getting a chance to get to know him in person, to be able to take over his record, means a lot to me.


"To be able to stick around this organization is a pretty good thing."

It also finished off a scrappy performance by the Twins, who avoided a winless homestand (1-5) and ended their six-game losing streak. They began the homestand by looking flat against the Chicago White Sox for three games but played better against the Boston Red Sox. They didn't have anything to show for it before Wednesday night.

Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn believed he had turned a corner in his last outing. It was hard to believe because he had w a lked six during a loss to the White Sox on Friday. But he kept the ball down and pounded the strike zone Wednesday while holding the Red Sox to an unearned run over 6 2/3 innings.

The unearned run came when second baseman Trevor Plouffe booted a grounder for an error to extend the inning. That led to a RBI single by Marco Scutaro. Plouffe was optioned to Class AAA Rochester after the game to make room for Alexi Casilla, who is coming off the disabled list.

Lefthander Glen Perkins gave up a 419-foot home run on a 98-mile-per-hour fastball to David Ortiz that tied the score at 2-2 in the eighth inning. It was the first home run Perkins had given up this season.

But the Twins responded with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Jim Thome drove in Joe Mauer with a one-out double that chased Boston starter Jon Lester. Danny Valencia followed with a RBI double and Nishioka added a RBI single.

Nathan began warming up in the bullpen for the ninth. He jogged in from the outfield as the song "Stand up and Shout" blasted over the speaker system.

And things turned out the same way they did 254 other times, with Nathan shaking hands and getting hugs. Only this time, it was for the club record.


"Joe Nathan finishing it off for that save was pretty special, too, that was pretty cool," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A good way to end a homestand with a win, which was desperately needed going into a day off."


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