Red Sox remain 5½ behind Yankees

BOSTON (AP) -- Bronson Arroyo is giving the Boston Red Sox what
Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling have provided all season -- a
strong performance by a starting pitcher.

Arroyo allowed one unearned run over 7 1/3 innings to lead the
Red Sox over the Detroit Tigers 4-1 Thursday night.

"It's always nice to feel like you're getting on a roll,
especially at the same time the team is playing well," said Arroyo
(7-9), who allowed six hits. "It's coming down to the home stretch
at the end of the season and you don't want to be the guy to go
there and kind of lose the momentum for the team."

Boston has won nine of its last 10 games, cutting the New York
Yankees' AL East lead from 10½ to 5½ games. It leads idle Anaheim
by a half-game in the wild-card race.

Arroyo struck out eight, walked two and allowed three earned
runs or fewer for the 11th time in his last 14 starts. Schilling
(16-6) and Martinez (13-5) lead the rotation.

"He's been consistently giving us quality starts," Dave
Roberts said of Arroyo, whose ERA dropped from 4.29 to 4.07. "He
gets overshadowed by the two guys at the top of the rotation."

Keith Foulke pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 29 chances,
completing a six-hitter that improved Boston's record to a
season-best 20 games over .500 at 73-53.

Jason Johnson (8-12) gave up three runs -- two earned -- and nine
hits in five innings.

"I strained my right hip the last start and it bothered me
every time I tried to throw a curveball," said Johnson, who lost
his fourth straight decision.

Boston scored in the first inning on David Ortiz's RBI double
and took the lead for good at 2-1 on Roberts' sacrifice fly in the
fourth after Bill Mueller's double.

"That was big for myself and big for the team," Roberts said.

He had been used sparingly since being obtained from Los Angeles
at the July 31 trade deadline but started the last three games.

"I am glad that he's got to play a few games because you can
tell he looks comfortable in the batter's box," Boston manager
Terry Francona said.

Arroyo made the lead stand up. Starting with the leadoff batter
in the fifth, he got six of the next seven outs on strikeouts.

"He threw his breaking ball very consistently over all night
for strikes," Detroit manager Alan Trammell said.

On July 19 in a loss to Seattle, Arroyo got 11 consecutive outs
with strikeouts and finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts.
Since then he is 4-2 with 38 strikeouts and nine walks.

Both his walks were in the first, and two inning-ending
strikeouts came with two runners on.

"Getting out of the first inning was definitely big," Arroyo
said. "I felt strong the whole game."

Detroit tied it with an unearned run in the third on a bizarre
play. Omar Infante doubled with no outs and took third on Bobby
Higginson's flyout. Catcher Doug Mirabelli then tried to throw
Infante out at third after a pitch to Ivan Rodriguez, but the ball
hit Rodriguez's bat and Infante scored.

Francona argued in vain with plate umpire John Hirschbeck.

Rodriguez struck out three times and made two errors, both on
throws to second that went into center field and allowed Roberts
and Damon to advance to third. Neither error led to a run.

"If I have to rush every throw, things are going to happen,"
said Rodriguez, indicating pitchers can do a better job holding
runners close to first base. His 11 errors are his most since 1992,
when he had 15.

Kevin Millar hit into a run-scoring double play in the fifth
after Manny Ramirez doubled and Ortiz singled. Mark Bellhorn added
an RBI single in the eighth off Jamie Walker.

Game notes
Ortiz got his career-high 40th double, one more than last
season. ... Detroit CF Rondell White was listed as day-to-day and
left in the bottom of the sixth with a strained right hip. He was
replaced by Marcus Thames. ... Boston SS Orlando Cabrera extended
his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Bobby Higginson tied Rudy York
for 16th place in Tigers history with 1,317 hits.