MINNEAPOLIS -- It was the type of play that could certainly serve as a symbol for the Twins' struggles this season.
Left-handed reliever Phil Dumatrait got what he wanted, getting Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz to ground softly down the first-base line with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning.
But Dumatrait fell while trying to flip the ball to home plate all in one motion, allowing what became the game-winning run to score in the Twins' 4-3 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday that saw their losing streak hit six games.
"I made my pitch and he just happened in a spot where it's a do-or-die play," Dumatrait said. "Unfortunately, I didn't make the play. We battled tonight, and a little mistake like that, you can't [afford to make] against a team like that, and it cost us."
It was a difficult play to be sure, especially because Dumatrait's momentum was headed toward first base and he didn't have time to pick up the ball and throw, as he was trying to scoop the ball to home for the forceout.
But the botched play seemed fitting considering the Twins' recent skid, as they have lost nine out of 10 and find themselves 14 games under .500 for the first time since June 11.
Manager Ron Gardenhire, however, said it was too easy to blame the defeat on that one play, as several other things went wrong in the loss.
"It's a little too simple," Gardenhire said. "When you lose, it's not always one thing. There are plenty of plays involved. And there were tonight. We missed some opportunities and didn't get some hits when we needed to. But we competed, and battled pretty hard. We're getting after it, but we just need to figure out a way to make it happen and get a win."
Wins have been hard to come by for the Twins, as the club has a 5.76 ERA over its last 10 games, and trails by double digits in the American League Central.
"We've been losing a lot of games in a row," said left-hander Francisco Liriano. "We haven't been pitching well at all, so it's been frustrating."
Liriano was effectively wild, issuing a career-high seven walks over six otherwise solid innings, as he surrendered just three runs on four hits. Gardenhire said he liked the fact that Liriano was at least missing down, so that the Red Sox couldn't hit the ball hard, and Liriano agreed with his manager's assertion.
"I feel like I was making good pitches, too," Liriano said. "It's a good thing I was missing down, and not up. I think I made some close pitches against good hitters."
But Liriano didn't factor into the decision, as it was right-hander Matt Capps who was saddled with the loss, as he loaded the bases with one out to set up Ortiz's infield hit off Dumatrait that scored the winning run.
"You hit a ground ball to the pitcher like that, he's got to chase and you've got to run and you have guys coming in," Ortiz said. "There's a lot of things going on at the same time."
The go-ahead run came after Tsuyoshi Nishioka tied the game in the sixth, when he nearly hit his first big league homer, crushing an RBI double off the out-of-town scoreboard in right field to score Danny Valencia, who singled off reliever Matt Albers.
The Red Sox had taken the lead in the sixth, as Jason Varitek hit an RBI single to score Jed Lowrie, who reached via Liriano's sixth free pass to open the frame.
Liriano also gave up two runs in the fifth on a homer by former Twins outfielder Darnell McDonald after he walked Varitek to open the inning.
"I think it might have been a cutter or something, there were two strikes," said McDonald, who played four games with Minnesota in '07. "I was just trying to put the ball in play and he left it in the middle of the plate and I was able to get it in the air."
Boston left-hander Erik Bedard also struggled with his command, walking four batters in the first before settling down to allow just two runs on three hits over five frames.
The Twins, who entered the game having drawn just one walk over their previous 182 plate appearances, used Bedard's control problems to their advantage to score two runs in the first.
Ben Revere walked to open the frame, advanced to third on a single from Joe Mauer and scored on a sacrifice fly from Michael Cuddyer. Jason Kubel and Jim Thome then drew back-to-back walks before Delmon Young brought home a run with a bases-loaded walk with two outs.
"He kind of got out of it," Gardenhire said. "We had a lot of good at-bats, and a lot of close pitches. We took a lot of balls, but unfortunately we got only two runs out of the situation. A couple guys got a little antsy and took some swings pretty quick, and didn't finish him off because he was definitely not finding the strike zone. We had a chance to add a few more runs there."