The Boston Red Sox pounded out 16 hits and Jonathan Papelbon made it very interesting at the end but held on as they went on to a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins in front of 27,636 at the Metrodome.

The win for the Red Sox moves them to 27-18 and keeps them in first place in the AL East. The loss for the Twins ends their 6-game home winning streak and 4-game winning streak as they drop to 22-24. It’s also the 6th straight win for the Red Sox over the Twins, including a 2-game sweep earlier this season at Fenway Park.

Papelbon had a 3-run lead when he entered the game in the top of the 9th.

Jason Kubel led off with a single but Papelbon recovered to strikeout Michael Cuddyer and got Brian Buscher to fly out. Joe Mauer came in and pinch-hit for Mike Redmond. Papelbon missed his location with a fastball and Mauer made him pay for that with his 11th of home run of the season (in just 81 at-bats) to cut the lead to 6-5. Papelbon finished off his 12th save by getting Delmon Young to fly out.

Boston Red Sox's Brad Penny (36) throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game on Monday, May 25, 2009 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)Brad Penny started this one for the Red Sox and other than a mistake to Cuddyer, pitched well in the first five innings of the game. It was the 6th inning that was his undoing. He ended up giving Terry Francona 5 1/3 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits while striking out 7. He didn’t walk anyone.

Other than Papelbon, the Red Sox bullpen combo of Ramon Ramirez and Hideki Okajima combined to pitch 2 2/3 innings of hitless baseball with a strikeout each.

It was another rough game for Twins starter Francisco Liriano against the Red Sox. He lasted just 4 innings, allowing 5 runs on 11 hits while striking out 7. The Twins bullpen gave up 5 hits and a run over the final 5 innings.

Mike Lowell was at DH today for the Red Sox and he led them with 4 hits and added an RBI. Dustin Pedroia had three hits, pushing his hitting streak to 8 games while Jacoby Ellsbury ran his hitting streak to 20 games with a 2-hit effort. Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis both chipped in with two hits and 2 RBIs and Rocco Baldelli had two hits as well. Jeff Bailey’s only hit of the night was as a solo home run.

Only Julio Lugo and Jason Varitek were hitless for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox wasted a big opportunity to score in the 2nd inning.

Lowell led off with a single and went to third on a Baldelli double. Liriano recovered though as he struck out the final 3 batters in Varitek, Bailey and JulE6o.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning when Cuddyer hit a 1-out home run.

Boston Red Sox's Jason Bay (44) hits a two-run double against the Minnesota Twins in the third inning of a baseball game in Minneapolis, Monday, May 25, 2009. Red Sox won 6-5. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)Ellsbury led off the 3rd with a single but was caught stealing with Pedroia at the plate, who ended up with a single. Youkilis doubled with Pedroia stopping at third and Bay brought them both home with a double to give the Red Sox the lead 2-1. With Lowell at the plate, Bay stole third and come home to score on a single by Lowell to make it 3-1.

Liriano got the first two outs in the 5th inning before an Ellsbury single. Pedroia followed with a single and Youk brought them both to the plate with a double to give the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.

Penny’s bad inning of the afternoon came in the 6th inning.

Carlos Gomez led with a double and ended up at third on a throwing error by Baldelli. Penny struck out Matt Tolbert but Justin Morneau hit a ground rule double to score Gomez and make it 5-2. Jason Kubel knocked Penny out of the game with a single that scored Morneau to cut the lead to 6-3. Ramirez came in and got the final two outs.

Bailey made it 6-3 when he led off the 8th with a solo home run off of R.A. Dickey.

It turns out that Penny was pitching while under the weather as he spent time between innings getting sick. That may have played a part in the bad 6th inning for him. Other than that, he looked good today although I suspect he may be the odd man out when John Smoltz returns in mid-June.

Good way to kick off the 10-game road trip though. It will be Jon Lester for the Red Sox tomorrow night and Nick Blackburn for the Twins in a game that will start at 8:10 PM.

Notes and musings:

Boston Red Sox @ Minnesota Twins 5.25.09 box score

In conjunction with Major League Baseball’s Welcome Back Veterans program which addresses the mental health and job needs of returning American Veterans – all clubs will wear “Stars & Stripes” caps today. The caps will have the American flag etched into the team’s logo and for the first time, will be red in color. These caps, produced by New Era, are available for sale too the public at with all off the proceeds from the sale going to Welcome Back Veterans. In addition, will donate an additional $1 too Welcome Back Veterans for each cap purchased through

Tim Wakefield is now 3-0 in starts when Boston was facing a series sweep. Washington’s Shairon Martis is the only other hurler with 3 sweep-averting wins in the Majors this season (Elias Sports Bureau).

The series loss for the Red Sox to the Mets was their first since the opening series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jacoby Ellsbury is the 11th Red Sox batter since 1920 to record multiple single-season hit streaks of at least 18 games.

The 20-game streak is the longest on the club this season and longest for a Red Sox batter since Kevin Youkilis’ 23-gamer, May 5-June 11, 2007. It also is the longest by a Sox center fielder since Johnny Damon’s 29-tilt mark, June 10-July 17, 2005.

Ellsbury’s streak is the longest active in the Majors, the longest by an A.L. batter in 2009 and the 2nd longest overall in the Majors this season behind the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman’s 30-game streak, April 8-May 12.

Mark Kotsay – who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 4 (retro to March 27) while recovering from back surgery – is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket today at Louisville (Reds). Kotsay has played right field and center field respectively in 2 games with the PawSox on his current rehab stint, going 3-for-6 (.500).

John Smoltz – on the 15-day DL since April 4 (retro to March 27) recovering from right shoulder surgery –– is slated to make his 2nd rehab start with Double-A Portland tomorrow night at New Hampshire (Blue Jays). Smoltz started for Single-A Greenville at Augusta (Giants) May 21, tossing 3.0 scoreless frames, yielding one hit while striking out 2.