Red Sox 5, Tigers 3

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BOSTON (AP)—Manny Ramirez banged a ball off his knee. Keith Foulke had a stiff back. Neither was available at the end of the game, and yet the Boston Red Sox keep winning.

Ricky Gutierrez singled three times and drove in two runs Friday night to help the Red Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3 for their 10th victory in 11 games. Mark Bellhorn had a pair of hits and Derek Lowe pitched eight strong innings as Boston remained 5 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East.

“We’re on a good roll, and as a starting pitcher you don’t want to be the one guy that stops the momentum,” Lowe said. “As a rotation, it’s been a lot of fun the last couple of weeks.”

Less fun was seeing Ramirez foul a pitch off his left knee in the fourth. He finished his at-bat—lining out to left—before Dave Roberts replaced him in left field to start the fifth. X-rays were negative and Ramirez was day-to-day with a bruise.

Ramirez, who leads the AL with 34 homers, singled and scored a run and is batting .316 with 102 RBIs. He was not available for comment after the game.

“We definitely need his bat—the understatement of the year,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He thought he was doing OK.”

Foulke, who pitched in four of the previous six games, reported stiffness earlier in the day and the decision was made in the fourth inning to give him the night off.

“It’s more precautionary than anything,” Francona said. “We don’t want to turn one night into seven.”

Lowe (12-10) allowed three runs and seven hits, striking out seven to win for the sixth time in his last eight decisions. With Foulke unavailable, Mike Timlin started the ninth and gave up a pair of hits before striking out Craig Monroe, who had already hit a two-run homer in the game.

Alan Embree struck out pinch-hitter Marcus Thames and Curtis Leskanic got Brandon Inge to pop out to right to end the game. It was Leskanic’s third save of the season and first since signing with the Red Sox on June 22; it was the first save for a Boston pitcher other than Foulke since April 25.

“Just a couple of pitches. I really didn’t do much work … too easy,” Leskanic said. “I was on the disabled list for the better part of three weeks. Just watching these guys play well, you want to contribute.”

Mike Maroth (10-9) allowed five runs—four earned—and 10 hits in five innings. He has lost consecutive decisions after winning the previous seven.

“The first half of the game, we certainly didn’t play very smart,” manager Alan Trammell said of the three Tigers errors. “Mike must have thrown at least 20 extra pitches because of that and that certainly hurt. It wasn’t his fault. He pitched pretty good ball.”

Maroth gave up consecutive doubles to start the first and fell behind 2-1 after one. Boston made it 3-1 in the third thanks to a two Detroit errors.

Ramirez reached safely when shortstop Carlos Guillen couldn’t handle his grounder. Jason Varitek doubled one out later and, on Kevin Millar’s grounder to shortstop, Inge muffed the throw home; Ramirez tried to go through the catcher before slipping around him to get to the plate.

Boston loaded the bases in the fifth on Varitek’s walk and consecutive singles by Orlando Cabrera and Gabe Kapler. Gutierrez followed with a single to left to drive in two runs and make it 5-1.

Notes

Varitek, who returned from a four-game suspension for pushing Alex Rodriguez in the face, received a big ovation before his first at-bat. … Tigers C Ivan Rodriguez, after committing two throwing errors Thursday night, was held out of the lineup Friday with a cold. … Tigers OF Rondell White was also held out with a strained right hip flexor, sustained during Thursday’s loss to the Red Sox. He was day-to-day. … Red Sox 3B Bill Mueller was held out of the lineup after twisting his right ankle Thursday. … The MRI on Boston 1B Doug Mientkiewicz’s left shoulder showed no structural damage and he remained day-to-day. … Lowe is 6-1 lifetime against Detroit, his hometown team.

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