MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Reliever Mike Timlin threw wildly to first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the ninth – Boston’s second throwing error in the inning – allowing the Minnesota Twins to score the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday night.

Michael Cuddyer led off the ninth with an infield single off Timlin (4-2), but third baseman Bill Mueller bounced his throw past first allowing Cuddyer to move to second. Nick Punto bunted the next pitch back to Timlin, who fired his throw past first baseman Roberto Petagine.

Joe Nathan (4-3) pitched a perfect ninth for the victory and Joe Mauer drove in two runs for Minnesota.

Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek both had three hits for Boston, which lost for the second straight game after winning eight in a row. Damon extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a broken-bat infield single to lead off the game. Two outs later, Manny Ramirez walked and Varitek followed with an RBI single off Johan Santana to give Boston a 1-0 lead.

Damon singled again in the fifth to drive in Tony Graffanino, who led off the inning with a single and moved to third on Gabe Kapler’s double. Edgar Renteria drove in Kapler with a fielder’s choice grounder to make it 3-0.

Boston starter David Wells allowed one hit until the sixth inning, when the Twins broke through for six hits and three runs to tie it. With one out, Juan Castro, Shannon Stewart and Lew Ford singled to load the bases and Mauer followed with a two-run single. Matthew LeCroy’s RBI single tied the game 3-3.

The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out against reliever Jesse Crain in the seventh, but Ramirez grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.

Damon went 3-for-5 to raise his American League-leading average to .341.

Notes: Damon had been 2-for-17 in his career against Santana before going 2-for-3 on Saturday. … Wells did not walk a batter for the 10th time in 20 starts. … Twins starters have not won consecutive starts since they won three straight from July 2-4. … Santana, who leads the AL with 9.64 strikeouts per nine innings, had a season-low two in six innings.

AP-ES-08-06-05 2215EDT

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