Red Sox 5, Tigers 1

Preview | Box Score | Recap

BOSTON (AP)—Not since last year’s Red Sox went “Cowboy Up” in the regular season—and belly up in the postseason—has the Boston dugout been such a jovial place to watch a baseball game.

With Derek Lowe donning a Dominican flag wrapped around his head to cheer on Pedro Martinez, the three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out eight to move into the top 20 on baseball’s career list and lead Boston to a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers 5-1.

“This is not a boring clubhouse, or dugout,” manager Terry Francona said Saturday night after the Red Sox stretched their winning streak to five games. “I think these guys feel good about each other. … They look like they care about each other. They stick together. Of course it’s easier to do that when you’re winning.”

Bill Mueller had three hits and scored twice for the Red Sox, who have won 11 of 12 to take a 1 1/2 -game lead over Anaheim in the wild-card race and close with 5 1/2 games of the New York Yankees in the AL East. The Red Sox have won 17 of their last 21 and are 19-8 since trading Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs on July 31.

Martinez (14-5) allowed one run and four hits with two walks with two hit batters in seven innings before Alan Embree and Ramiro Mendoza combined for hitless relief. Martinez finished with 2,614 strikeouts, passing Chuck Finley for 20th place.

“I keep finding out every time I have an outing that I did something special,” said Martinez, who in his previous start passed Sandy Koufax for double-digit strikeout games. “Top 20? Who would imagine that?”

Jeremy Bonderman (7-11) matched Martinez most of the game, allowing three runs, four hits and four walks. He left trailing just 2-1 with one out in the seventh before the Red Sox scored three times to break open the game.

Mueller led off with a single and Gabe Kapler sacrificed him to second. Jamie Walker relieved and got Dave Roberts on a pop foul to first base, but Mark Bellhorn doubled into the left-field corner to score Mueller.

Johnny Damon bounced a double into the Red Sox bullpen to score Bellhorn, and David Ortiz singled to score Damon and make it 5-1. Jason Varitek singled, and that was it for Walker; Esteban Yan struck out Kevin Millar to end the threat.

Bonderman was coming off his first career shutout, but he has lost four of his last six starts.

“You normally win 90 percent of the games when you throw like that,” he said. “But (not) when you go up against a guy that’s that good.”

Detroit led 1-0 before Boston scored twice on one hit in the fifth.

Mueller drew a one-out walk and stole second, then Kapler also walked. Roberts followed with a sharp grounder down the first base line for a double. Bellhorn grounded out to second base, scoring Kapler.

Notes

Martinez is 10-2 in his last 17 starts, 8-1 at Fenway Park this year and 6-0 lifetime against Detroit. … The Red Sox had a successful sacrifice bunt for the third consecutive game. … Damon scored his 100th run of the season—his seventh consecutive season reaching the mark. … C Ivan Rodriguez was out of the Tigers lineup for the second straight night, recovering from a cold. He’s also just 2-for-15 lifetime against Martinez. LF Rondell White remains day to day with a left hip flexor strain. He’s 2-for-18 lifetime against the Red Sox ace. … SS Carlos Guillen is day to day with a sore right knee. … Boston OF Manny Ramirez was not in the starting lineup due to a bruised left knee. The AL home-run leader (34) fouled a ball off the leg in the fourth inning Friday. Due to the injury, Damon batted third for just the second time this season.

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