(SportsNetwork.com) - Minnesota hurler Phil Hughes aims to extend his personal winning streak to five straight starts on Thursday afternoon as the Twins cap a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox and red-hot slugger David Ortiz.
Hughes did not get past five innings in any of his first three outings this season, but has gone at least six in each game of his winning streak. He has a 2.05 earned run average in that span and is coming off a 2-1 victory over Detroit on Friday.
The right-hander matched a season high with seven innings pitched, scattering eight hits and striking out three without a walk in the scoreless outing. He also showed some maturity by knowing his limits in a tight game.
"Every pitcher has a certain amount of pride, but in the seventh I felt like my stuff was deteriorating," Hughes told the Twins' website. "Up 2-0, with the meat of the order coming up and they've had some success against me in the past, you don't want to give the game away because you're being prideful.
Hughes, 27, now sits at 4-1 with a 3.92 ERA on the season and the former New York Yankee is 5-7 with a 5.70 ERA in 22 previous meetings with Boston, 13 of those starts.
Hughes will have to find a way to slow down Ortiz if the Twins hope to secure their first series victory at home over the Red Sox at Target Field since the building's initial season in 2010.
Ortiz has homered twice in both games of this set, driving in four runs in Tuesday's loss before hitting a pair of solo homers in last night's 9-4 triumph.
The first blast, a no-doubter into the upper deck in right-center field, was Ortiz's 383rd with the Red Sox, passing Jim Rice for the third-most in team history.
"He's in one of those stretches right now where he's obviously seeing the ball well," said Boston manager John Farrell said about Ortiz. "They're throwing pitches on the plate for him and he's not missing them."
Ortiz is a lifetime .528 hitter at Target Field, smashing nine homers and 22 RBI in 13 games there. He is 9-for-22 versus Hughes with a pair of homers and seven RBI.
"He's a good hitter and you can't afford to make any mistakes against a guy like that," noted Twins starter Kevin Correia, who gave up five runs over just four innings of work, of Ortiz. "They are world champions. They are the best team in the world for a reason."
Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski matched Ortiz with two RBI as Boston won for the seventh time in 10 games.
The Twins had won two straight and three of four coming in, and will square off today with Red Sox hurler Clay Buchholz, who is 2-3 this year with a 6.44 ERA.
Buchholz showed signs of getting past a rough outing versus Baltimore on April 21, when he gave up six runs and lasted just 2 1/3 innings in the setback, as he righty followed with consecutive wins, giving up just four runs total.
However, he was hammered on Friday in Texas. Buchholz gave up six runs on 10 hits and two walks over 4 1/3 frames, though it ultimately didn't matter in an 8-0 defeat as the Red Sox came within one out of getting no-hit by the Rangers' Yu Darvish.
The 29-year-old Buchholz is 3-1 in his career versus the Twins with a 4.22 ERA.