BOSTON (AP) – David Ortiz broke a 68-year-old home run record to help end Minnesota’s three-hour stay in first place.

Boston’s designated hitter slammed his 51st and 52nd homers of the season, passing Jimmie Foxx’s team record of 50 set in 1938, and the Red Sox sent Twins ace Johan Santana to his first loss since the All-Star break with a 6-0 win Thursday night.

Minnesota entered the game with a .001 lead in the AL Central over Detroit, which lost an afternoon game at Baltimore 4-3. It was the first time the Twins had led the division this season after the Tigers were alone in the top spot since May 20.

Minnesota dropped a half-game behind with the loss and leads the wild-card race by five games over the White Sox, who hosted Seattle on Thursday night.

Santana (18-6) leads the majors in ERA and wins, but Josh Beckett (16-10) was the dominant pitcher on Thursday.

He broke his career high of 15 victories set last year, going eight innings and giving up six hits. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. The left-hander allowed only one runner past second base before Keith Foulke pitched the ninth.

With Santana pitching, Minnesota had an excellent chance to boost that lead. He was 9-0 since the All-Star break this season and had a 31-2 record after the break over the last three seasons. But he threw 100 pitches in five innings, matching his shortest stint of the year, and the Twins lost for just the third time in 13 games.

That enabled the Red Sox to avoid elimination from the wild-card race. They were eliminated from the AL East race Wednesday when their 8-2 loss to the Twins clinched the division for the New York Yankees.

Boston is 81/2 games back of the Twins for the wild card.

Ortiz hit solo shots in the first inning off Santana and in the seventh of Matt Guerrier. He broke his own record of homers by a DH of 43 set last year and now has 45. His 52 homers moved him into a tie for 12th in AL history.

When he returned to the dugout after giving Boston a 1-0 lead, he was hugged by teammates who swarmed around him. But when he got back there after his second homer, they gave him the silent treatment for a few seconds, then smiled and laughed as they surrounded him. After both homers, he left the dugout to salute the applauding fans.

Ortiz hit his 50th homer Wednesday night, a solo shot off Boof Bonser.

The Red Sox went ahead 4-0 in the second with a big boost from Santana’s pitching and fielding.

Singles by Carlos Pena and Gabe Kapler put runners at first and second. Alex Gonzalez then attempted a sacrifice bunt. Santana fielded it, dropped it, then threw wildly past first base. Pena and Kapler scored and Gonzalez reached third. Mark Loretta’s sacrifice fly scored Gonzalez.

Guerrier replaced Santana and retired the first four batters he faced. But with one out in the seventh, Ortiz hit the ball over the center-field wall on a full count. Mike Lowell then hit the next pitch over the left-field fence for his 18th homer and a 6-0 lead.

Notes: Beckett got 11 straight outs starting with a double-play grounder by Joe Mauer with runners at first and second in the third. He struck out the side in the sixth. … Jason Bartlett was the only Twin with more than one hit. He had two singles, one that didn’t leave the infield. … Ortiz increased his AL-leading totals to 52 homers and 132 RBIs. … Beckett threw 103 pitches, 69 for strikes.

AP-ES-09-21-06 2215EDT

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