More supple than strong, more speedy than powerful, more Spiderman than Superman, Nomar Garciaparra doesn't look like a typical cleanup hitter.
"Looking Red Sox-Twins: City pages:
at him, no," Red Sox catcher Scott Hatteberg agreed after Garciaparra went 3-for-4 with a homer and the game-winning double Thursday night to lead Boston to an 8-7 victory over Minnesota.
"But if the guys get on, he hits them in. If they don't, he hits it out," said Hatteberg, who also had three hits. "I don't know what more a cleanup hitter can do."
Garciaparra made it 1-0 with a first-inning sacrifice fly, and 2-0 in the fourth with his 25th homer. With the score 7-all in the seventh, he followed Mo Vaughn's leadoff double with another two-base hit to give the Red Sox the lead for good.
"He's not big in stature, but he certainly has the capability to hit for power," Boston manager Jimy Williams said. "You're seeing a special player, that's what you're seeing."
The reigning AL rookie of the year -- nicknamed "Spiderman" for the acrobatic plays like his stab of Todd Walker's line drive in the sixth -- now has 95 RBI for the season. Twenty-six of them are in the 19 games since moving to the cleanup spot; he is hitting .358 as the No. 4 hitter, with a .704 slugging percentage.
"Garciaparra had a great night," Twins manager Tom Kelly said. "When Walker hit that ball, he was way up there. He should have been in the NBA."
Dennis Eckersley (3-1) earned the victory despite allowing a game-tying double to his firsbatter, Marty Cordova. Walker was walked intentionally, then Eckersley got Terry Steinbach to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Tom Gordon pitched the ninth for his 33rd save. John Valentin and Vaughn, the Nos. 2 and 3 hitters in the Red Sox lineup, also had three hits apiece.
"Hitting around Mo, period, helps everybody," Garciaparra said. "Mo's the best hitter on the team. Wherever he's hitting will help out tremendously."
Travis Mller (0-2) struck out two in two innings, giving up the back-to-back doubles in the seventh as the Twins lost for the 11th time in 12 games this month.
Vaughn, John Valentin and Scott Hatteberg also had three hits apiece for Boston.
Boston starter Pedro Martinez had his third subpar outing -- for him, at least -- in a row, giving up two runs apiece in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. He has a 5.40 ERA in three August starts.
"I was happy with the overall play," Kelly said. "We came back against maybe the best pitcher in the league. We just came up a run short."
The Red Sox led 4-0 in the fifth when David Ortiz and Pat Meares singled with two outs, and Otis Nixon walked to load the bases. Brent Gates singled to score two runs.
Valentin and Vaughn doubled to start the bottom of the fifth, then Garciaparra singled and stole second. Mike Stanley singled to make it 7-2.
The Twins made it 7-4 on Ortiz's two-run double in the sixth, then scored three in the seventh and chased Martinez.
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