Thanks to an eighth-inning home run by rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox defeated the visiting Miami Marlins, 6-5, Thursday night at Fenway Park.
Middlebrooks delivered the tying runs with his eighth home run with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Daniel Nava drove in Ryan Kalish with the game-winner one out later.
The Red Sox picked up half a game on the idle East division-leading Yankees and second place Baltimore, plus a full game on third place Tampa Bay, 5-2 losers at Washington. Boston is 5 1/2 off the pace.
Middlebrooks has been getting plenty of playing time and producing well, drinving in nine runs over his last six games. Against the Marlins on Thursday, he went 3-for-4, driving in four of Boston's six runs. Middlebrooks is batting .316 with 31 RBI in 38 games
The win was the fifth straight for the surging Beantowners, who swept the Marlins three straight.
Pittsburgh took two of three from Minnesota, who are circling the drain in the AL Central, with a league-worst record of 27-41.
McCutchen scored twice and drove in three with a 3-for-4 effort - a single, double and triple - raising his batting average to .339, fifth-best in the NL. He's hit safely in five straight games and nine of his last ten and decimated Twins' pitching, going 7-for-11 with five RBI in the three-game series.
With the Pittsburgh regulars piling up the runs, starter James McDonald dictated to the Twins for his first major league complete game, allowing one run on six hits, striking out five without issuing a walk. He is 6-3 with a 2.12 ERA, fourth among NL starting pitchers.
INTERLEAGUE SCOREBOARD: The AL went 8-6 on Wednesday and 3-2 on Thursday, as they continue to dominate the National League with just three days of interleague play remaining. The AL lead has become insurmountable, at 119-90.