Boston drops to 2-7 in last nine games

DETROIT (AP) -- Carlos Pena had his best game of what has been a disappointing season against his hometown team.

Pena broke a tie with a two-run homer in the sixth inning and added a solo shot in the eighth to help the Detroit Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox 8-3 on Monday night for their sixth victory in eight games.

The former Haverhill (Mass.) High School star had his sixth multihomer game after entering the game hitting .183 with one homer in 22 games.

"I know Mom and Dad are watching. I can't wait to call them," he said. "I know my mom has a big smile and my dad has a big smile. It gives them a lot of joy. It's awesome."

Boston dropped to 3-6 in its last nine games, with manager Terry Francona returning to the dugout after serving a three-game suspension for his role in the Red Sox's bench-clearing brawls in Tampa Bay on April 24.

Francona's first pitching change didn't work out.

He replaced starter Jeremi Gonzalez in the sixth -- after he threw 99 pitches -- with Blaine Neal (0-1), who got only one out on a sacrifice bunt after giving up Pena's homer and two walks.

"[Gonzalez] battled his command all night and he hadn't thrown more than 93 pitches all year, so we were getting into a new area for him," Francona said.

Why did he go with Neal, who hadn't pitched since April 25?

"I'm the manager, and I thought that was the right thing to do," Francona said. "We can't go to [Mike] Timlin every day in the sixth, and he had pitched two days in a row. But I realize that was a tough situation. He hadn't pitched in a while."

Pena's second homer came against Alan Embree, who also gave up an RBI double to Nook Logan and an RBI single to Brandon Inge.

Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman (4-2) allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings. The 22-year old struck out six and walked five.

"He's going to be a great pitcher," Boston's Johnny Damon
said. "We had decent approaches, but that kid's really good."

Bonderman had a 1-2-3 inning in the first and then scrambled to strand 10 over the next five innings.

After allowing three runs in the third, Bonderman didn't allow another run in the inning despite a two-on, no-out jam. The Red Sox loaded the bases in the fourth with no one out, but Trot Nixon, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz failed to bring home a run.

"In the third and fourth innings, he threw 52 pitches," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "I don't know how the heck he did it."

Bonderman was relieved Trammell stuck with him while Franklyn German warmed up in the bullpen.

"It shows he believes in me," Bonderman said.

With Curt Schilling and David Wells on the disabled list, Boston called up Gonzalez from Triple-A Pawtucket and started him against the Tigers.

Gonzalez lasted five innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out seven. He had 79 previous major-league appearances with the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay, going 24-32 with a 4.69 ERA.

Gonzalez got off to a shaky start by allowing leadoff hitter Inge to walk. After Carlos Guillen singled, Craig Monroe hit a two-run double to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Gonzalez settled down in the second, striking out two, and gave up only one run over the next three innings.

Damon's RBI triple in the third and Ramirez's two-run double put Boston ahead 3-2. In the home half, Inge hit his fourth triple and scored on Guillen's single, tying the game.

Game notes
Pena hit three homers in a game in 2003. ... The city of Boston paid $5.1 million Monday to the parents of a college student who was killed by a pepper-spray pellet fired by police trying to subdue a riot among Red Sox fans outside Fenway Park after Boston's playoff win over the New York Yankees last fall. ... Detroit's Dmitri Young (flu) was a late scratch. ... To make room for Gonzalez, the Red Sox designated first baseman David McCarty for assignment.