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Red Sox Bullpen Falters Again

Minneapolis — Andrew Miller will quickly want to forget this trip to Minnesota.

Miller served up his second walk-off hit in three days when Aaron Hicks drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Twins to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.

“I’ve felt good out there, but I’ve blown two games,” Miller said. “We lost two games in this series and my name is attached to it.”

After scoring 15 runs in the first two games of the series, Boston’s bats cooled at the hands of a familiar foe in Phil Hughes.

Hughes, formerly with the New York Yankees, struck out eight in six innings and retired David Ortiz, who hit four home runs in the first two games of the series, in his first three at-bats.

Clay Buchholz gave up three runs on 10 hits and struck out six in six innings for the Red Sox, who did little through the first eight innings.

Brian Duensing (1-1) picked up the win.

“I tell you what, for the first six innings, that’s as good a ball as Phil Hughes has thrown against us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

“He was very good at the top of the strike zone, evident by the number of balls we hit into the air. He pitches more comfortable here, it seems.”

Hughes had a shot at his fifth-straight victory before closer Glen Perkins blew his second save of the season. Perkins gave up a two-run single by Will Middlebrooks with the bases loaded that tied the game in the ninth inning.

Kurt Suzuki doubled down the left field line and Hicks, who was hitting .161, lined a 3-2 pitch to left field off Miller (1-2) with two outs in the 10th.

Mike Carp had two hits and an RBI for the Red Sox, but Ortiz was a quiet 1 for 4 with a single.

The Red Sox offense was really starting to do well, with Ortiz’s personal home run derby contributing to 28 runs over their previous four games. But Hughes put those hot bats on ice on a day the temperature was 46 degrees at first pitch.

“He only threw a couple curveballs in the 90-plus pitches he threw,” Farrell said. “They threw a lot of strikes, didn’t issue many bases on balls. We didn’t have a whole lot going for us in the first 8.”

Despite lackluster offense, Middlebrooks led the Red Sox rally in the ninth inning that ultimately fell short. At the crack of Hicks’ bat, Miller said he thought he forced the final out that would send the game to an 11th inning.

Miller allowed two hits and one earned run in 1 2⁄ 3 innings.

“(Miller) is throwing as well as anybody out of the bullpen in this league right now,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “For him to get two losses here is pretty amazing to tell you the truth.”

After hitting the winning homer in the bottom of the ninth against Miller to beat the Red Sox on Tuesday, Chris Parmelee’s two-run shot in the second inning slammed off the scoreboard hanging from the second deck in the right-center field. Brian Dozier followed with a sacrifice fly later in the inning.

Buchholz and three Red Sox relievers, including Miller, held the Twins scoreless through the final seven innings before Hicks’ walk-off winner.

“We were a swing of the bat away from walking out of here with a series win,” Farrell said.

Notes: The Twins gave SS Danny Santana the day off to rest some sore legs, Gardenhire said. ... The Red Sox head home to open a series against Detroit tonight. LHP Jon Lester (4-4, 2.75) will start for Boston against Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.04).