MINNEAPOLIS -- David Cone never imagined his Boston Red Sox debut being cut so short.
Cone lasted only four innings of a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon, as Brad Radke became baseball's first seven-game winner.
Cone allowed two runs, two hits, four walks and hit a batter in his first major league start since Sept. 30 for the New York Yankees. He threw only 37 strikes in 76 pitches.
'I was just missing with a lot of fastballs, which is usually the case with a lot of the pitchers on the losing side. I need to fine-tune some things and throw more strikes.' -- David Cone
"I was hoping to go deeper in the ballgame," Cone said. "I was just missing with a lot of fastballs, which is usually the case with a lot of the pitchers on the losing side. I need to fine-tune some things and throw more strikes."
After Cone went 4-14 last season, the Yankees did not make an attempt to re-sign the 38-year-old right-hander in the offseason. Cone signed a minor league deal with the rival Red Sox on Jan. 11. He has been on a minor league rehabilitation assignment since injuring his right shoulder in spring training.
"In spring training, I wasn't sure what was going to happen," Cone said.
Next up for Cone is a start Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium against his former team.
"David works hard and is such a good competitor," Twins manager Tom Kelly said. "I hope he makes it back. He's good for the game."
Corey Koskie hit a three-run homer off Rolando Arrojo (1-2) in the fifth inning for the Twins (28-11), who are off to the best start in franchise history.
Cone retired eight of the first nine batters before running into control problems in the third with a 3-0 lead. With two outs and nobody on, Cristian Guzman walked and Denny Hocking was hit by a pitch.
Matt Lawton followed with an RBI single to make it 3-1, but Cone struck out Koskie with runners on second and third to end the inning.
After Doug Mientkiewicz led off the fourth with his ninth homer, Cone walked the next two batters and was replaced by Arrojo.
Radke (7-1) threw his third complete game in nine starts, allowing six hits -- including Manny Ramirez's 250th career home run.
Radke retired the final seven batters -- including Ramirez and Troy O'Leary on strikeouts to open the ninth.
Ramirez's two-run homer in the third inning gave him a major league-leading 50 RBIs in his first 40 games. He's the first Boston player to reach the 50-RBI mark in 40 games or fewer since Walt Dropo in 1950.
It is the fourth time in the past seven years that a player has driven in 50 runs in 40 games or fewer. Ramirez did it in 38 games with Cleveland in 1999; Juan Gonzalez in 40 games with Texas in 1998; and Joe Carter in 40 games with Toronto in 1994.
Notes: Hocking left the game in the sixth inning because of a bruised right leg. He will make the three-game trip to Baltimore. ... Guzman went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Boston 1B Brian Daubach went 0-for-3 in his first start since hyperextending his thumb last Friday.
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