Twins 7, Red Sox 2

Cole pitches into 5th inning in Pirates’ loss to Twins

The Minnesota Twins gave right-hander Ricky Nolasco plenty of early run support in a 7-2 win against the Boston Red Sox at Target Field on Monday.

Minnesota scored once in the first inning then tacked on six more in the second, staking Nolasco to an early seven-run lead. Nolasco allowed two runs in the third inning then settled in after that, going a season-high 7 2/3 innings and scattering seven hits. He struck out five and improved to 5-1 this season. It was the first time this season he issued no free passes.

Twins second baseman Brian Dozier got the attack going early, leading off the game with a double into the left-field corner. He scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Joe Mauer. Minnesota broke the game open in the second, starting the inning with four consecutive hits, including RBI hits by designated hitter Eduardo Nunez and left fielder Eddie Rosario.

Right fielder Torii Hunter drove in another run with an RBI groundout before the big blow: a three-run homer by third baseman Trevor Plouffe that cleared the wall in left, making it 7-0.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki followed with a single, driving Red Sox righty Joe Kelly from the game after he gave up seven runs on eight hits and a walk in just 1 2/3 innings. Kelly dropped to 1-4.

Minnesota finished with 16 hits; each of its nine batters had at least one, and Escobar finished 3-for-4.

Boston designated hitter David Ortiz and left fielder Hanley Ramirez each knocked in a run in the third inning before Nolasco settled in, retiring 15 of the final 16 men he faced. Since returning from the disabled list on May 2, Nolasco is 5-0 with a 3.77 ERA, 25 strikeouts and just six walks in 28 2/3 innings.

NOTES: Red Sox RHP Joe Kelly allowed seven earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, tied for the most he has allowed in his four-year career. … Red Sox LF Hanley Ramirez knocked in a run with a second-inning single, his first RBI in May, a span of 76 at-bats. … Twins SS Eduardo Escobar singled in the second inning, snapping an 0-for-7 streak. … The Red Sox and Twins will play the second game of a three-game series at Target Field on Tuesday. Boston’s Clay Buchholz (2-5, 4.58 ERA) will oppose Minnesota’s Mike Pelfrey (3-1, 3.00).