DETROIT -- Justin Upton, denied a potential game-tying home run by Comerica Park's deep center field Saturday night, put a pair of three-run homers into the left-field seats Sunday afternoon, powering the Tigers to a four-game series split against the Red Sox with a 10-5 win.The win kept Detroit seven
DETROIT -- Justin Upton, denied a potential game-tying home run by Comerica Park's deep center field Saturday night, put a pair of three-run homers into the left-field seats Sunday afternoon, powering the Tigers to a four-game series split against the Red Sox with a 10-5 win.
The win kept Detroit seven games behind Cleveland in the American League Central. Boston remained a half-game behind Toronto for the AL East lead.
"Big split," said Justin Verlander, who tossed six innings of one-run ball for the win. "In the big picture, we've played these guys well this year and they're a really good ballclub. And we're a really good ballclub, a little hobbled, but to come away with a split today was big."
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Upton, who had three days out of the lineup to work on his swing before returning Saturday, reaped the benefits on Sunday as he and J.D. Martinez combined for eight RBIs against Red Sox fill-in starter Henry Owens. Martinez, batting cleanup on his 29th birthday with Victor Martinez off, doubled home two runs in the third before Upton pounced on a hanging breaking ball. Two innings later, Upton turned on Owens' fastball, sending it midway up the left-field seats for an 8-0 lead.
"We're sitting there in a 2-0 ballgame and then all of a sudden, it's the Upton show at that point," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
The damage comprised the Tigers' best run support for Verlander since June 16. He cruised, his lone run allowed coming when Andrew Benintendi tripled and scored in the sixth, before Benintendi's first Major League home run -- a two-run shot -- fueled Boston's four-run seventh off Shane Greene.
"It's a broken record. He keeps going out there and giving us a chance to win," manager Brad Ausmus said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Free passes don't pay: Though Martinez entered Sunday batting .455 (20-for-44) over his last 11 games, the Red Sox opted to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera ahead of him with first base open and two outs in the third. Martinez didn't sting the ball as punishment, but he got enough of Owens' changeup to poke a ground ball down the right-field line for a two-run double. Owens struggled from there, falling behind on Upton and leaving an offspeed pitch up and over the plate.
"It's pick your poison there, Miggy or J.D.," Ausmus said.
Rapid change: Owens, making the spot-start in place of Eduardo Rodriguez (hamstring), had five strikeouts through the first two innings, keeping the Tigers from putting a ball in play as Ian Kinsler was caught stealing after drawing a leadoff walk. Things quickly turned when Owens allowed five runs on three hits in the fifth, including Upton's first homer. He gave up three more hits and three more runs in the fifth. Owens has an ERA of 7.79 and a WHIP of 2.13 in four Major League starts this season.
Owens issued five walks, one of which was an intentional walk to Cabrera that led to Martinez's double and Upton's first home run.
"I worked tirelessly trying to command the fastball and I've been better lately, so I'm not going to be negative here, I'm going to continue to be positive and work hard and try to find that consistency," Owens said.
Maybin happy returns: The Tigers brought back Cameron Maybin from the disabled list ahead of schedule Sunday morning, activating him after he looked good against live pitching in a simulated game. He ran down a half-dozen fly balls in the first four innings, including a third-inning drive deep to right-center, before adding two insurance runs with a two-out single in the sixth off Junichi Tazawa.
"I just wanted to play," Maybin said. "It's going to hurt. It's going to feel the same on Tuesday as it does today. But sometimes you have to play through a little discomfort. We have some big games coming up." More >
A first time for everything: Benintendi's triple in the sixth was the first of his career. He came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Pedroia. One inning later, Benintendi went on to knock another thing off his to-do list -- his first homer. He saw a 3-2 slider from Greene and pulled it down the right-field line to cut the deficit to 10-5, but that was as close as the Red Sox would get.
"It's pretty exciting getting the first one and I'm glad my family was here to see it," Benintendi said. More >
"We've had a lot of battles against each other and that was kind of one of them. I'm like, 'All right, 2-0, here you go, I'm going to give you all heaters and see what happens.' Glad I got him out." -- Verlander, on facing David Ortiz one final time
"This one came down to base on balls and Justin Upton." -- Farrell, on Upton's two homers and Red Sox pitchers issuing six walks
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Upton's six RBIs tied a career high, accomplished three times previously. He last accomplished it May 24 of last season while with the Padres, facing the Dodgers.
Red Sox: The Red Sox head to St. Petersburg on Monday for the final leg of an 11-game, four-city road trip as David Price (11-8, 4.19 ERA) faces the Rays, his original team, at 7:10 p.m. ET. Price is 0-3 with a 3.98 ERA in three starts at Tropicana Field since being traded by Tampa Bay to Detroit in 2014.
Tigers: Detroit enjoys an off-day Monday before hitting the road for a three-game series at Target Field, beginning Tuesday with an 8:10 p.m. ET matchup against the Twins. Aníbal Sánchez (6-12, 5.94) starts, trying to follow up his no-hit bid.
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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit and covered the Red Sox on Sunday.