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MIN@BOS: Diamond keeps Red Sox scoreless over seven

With a fastball that hangs around 88 mph, Scott Diamond had the Red Sox looking silly in a May 7 start.

The Sox haven't done much damage against left-handed pitchers this season. From hard throwers to soft tossers, southpaws have stymied Boston's offense to the tune of a .230 batting average and just 12 home runs in more than 500 plate appearances.

The Red Sox will get another try at Diamond in a rematch between he and 35-year-old Ryan Dempster, who went toe-to-toe less than two weeks ago.

After starting the year on the 15-day disabled list following the removal of a bone chip from his left elbow, Diamond has delivered for the Twins, including his seven-inning, three-hit shutdown of the Red Sox.

"He makes it real easy," catcher Ryan Doumit said. "He's one of the most prepared pitchers I've ever been around. He has a game plan every time out and sticks to it. Nights like those are fun. That's a really good baseball team over there, and to only give up three hits against a lineup like that is impressive."

On Sunday against the Orioles, Diamond struggled. Without command of his pitches, he allowed six runs on nine hits, including three homers, over 5 2/3 innings.

"It's very unusual for him," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's normally pretty spot-on, but as you could see [Sunday], the ball was just up."

Dempster has run into similar problems of late. His fastball is just a tick faster, at around 89 mph, and his loss of control last Sunday against the Blue Jays resulted in a trifecta of home runs and his worst outing as a member of the Red Sox.

"I've been feeling really good this year," Dempster said. "Even [last outing], my arm feels good, my body feels good. I just didn't execute pitches. It's nice as you get older to continue to feel good. That's an important thing, but at the same time, you can feel as good as you want or as bad as you want, you've got to execute pitches. Hopefully I can continue to do that on a consistent basis."

Dempster's 3.75 ERA and 61 strikeouts over 48 innings have been encouraging after signing a two-year, $26.5 million contract in the offseason.

"There's always that notion of people wanting to know how a guy coming from the National League is going to translate to the American League because of the DH and potentially deeper lineups," manager John Farrell said. "I think when you look past the five starts he had in Texas, from that point on, he not only had adapted well, but he's been very successful, and he's done the same here with us."

Red Sox: Victorino ailing again
Shane Victorino has been a more-than-effective right fielder with the Red Sox this season, with his speed and athleticism more typically suited for center field.

But for the second time this season, Victorino tracked down a ball deep in right and couldn't put on the breaks fast enough, engaging in a collision with the wall on Thursday. The veteran was held out of Friday's lineup against the Twins, but he is hoping to return Saturday.

"It's a little stiff today, but I'm hoping it's not anything like it was the first time," said Victorino, who missed a week earlier this year with lower back inflammation. "We've got to go day to day and see how it feels. It feels a lot better today, obviously, but it's still frustrating to be circling back to this situation.

Twins: Mauer could return Saturday
Joe Mauer, in the middle of a 14-game hitting streak, missed Friday's game with back stiffness, but he could return on Saturday.

Mauer was 8-for-18 in the four-game series with the Red Sox in early May.

"We haven't had to fight too many things here, and that's a bonus," Gardenhire said of the Twins' good fortunes in regards to avoiding major injuries. "I like writing a lineup out and making tough decisions on who to leave out. Most of our guys have been healthy for the most part."

Worth noting
• The Red Sox have taken eight of 13 series this season, tied for second most series wins behind the Orioles, who have won nine.

• Red Sox catcher David Ross is still experiencing light-headedness following a concussion sustained last weekend. Ross will be further examined in Boston on Monday.

• The Twins fell to 18-20 with a loss to the Red Sox on Friday and can't seem to get over that hump of back-and-forth baseball.

• Twins right-fielder Chris Parmelee made his first start as the Twins' two-hitter Friday and went 1-for-4.

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