Pena led off the eighth inning with a tiebreaking home run, and Detroit beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Saturday night to snap its nine-game losing streak.
Pena had three hits, including a single that tied it at 3 in the fifth, and drove in two runs. Placido Polanco had four hits and an RBI for the Tigers, who avoided their first 10-game skid since September 2003.
Detroit lost an AL-record 119 games that season.
“To say that you’re pressing, no doubt, that’s true,” Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. “Even the coaching staff. We haven’t been hitting, our pitching hasn’t been as good as the first half … It’s nice to stop the bleeding.”
Andrew Sisco (2-3) took the loss after allowing Pena’s 12th homer.
“It was a terrible pitch, a hanging slider right in the zone and he was looking for it,” Sisco said. “I should be able to get left-handed hitters out this late in the game.”
Pena was sent to Triple-A Toledo in May for being ineffective at the plate. But since being recalled on Aug. 17, Pena—who was only in the lineup as the designated hitter because Dmitri Young was scratched from the lineup—is hitting .426 (23-for-54) with nine home runs and 19 RBIs in 17 games.
“He’s really been a different player,” Trammell said.
Pena hasn’t been speaking to the print media since his return.
Detroit’s Mike Maroth went six-plus innings and gave up three runs and seven hits, walking one and striking out three. He was relieved to get a win—even if it wasn’t his.
“You don’t have that feeling of losing,” Maroth said. “You go out there and lose game after game, you don’t play relaxed.”
Kansas City starter Jimmy Gobble gave up two runs on seven hits in 3 2-3 innings, walking two and striking out two.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the second on Polanco’s RBI single. He took second on the throw to the plate and scored on Brandon Inge’s double.
“We had one big inning, but just couldn’t get it done,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
Detroit failed to score in the first despite loading the bases with none out. Polanco led off with a double, Inge walked and Ivan Rodriguez singled. But Magglio Ordonez struck out, Chris Shelton lined out to second and Craig Monroe lined out to center.
“The way things have been going, you look back to the first inning,” Trammell said. “… But we came back in the second.”
Royals RHP D.J. Carrasco has an inflamed right shoulder and will be inactive for about seven days. He had been sent home to Kansas City on Friday. … Young was scratched with leg soreness.