BOSTON -- Alfredo Simon tossed his first quality start in over a month, Nick Castellanos drove in three runs and Yoenis Cespedes homered, as the Tigers evened their three-game weekend series against the Red Sox with a 5-1 victory on Saturday at Fenway Park.
Simon, who powered his way through six innings of one-run ball, had to be removed from the game in the seventh inning due to a groin strain. But the Tigers believe he can avoid a trip to the disabled list. The veteran righty scattered five hits, struck out four and walked two, as Detroit brought itself to within one game of the .500 mark.
"I just tried to look at my video back three months ago, two months ago," Simon said. "Every time I throw the ball down and my two-seam works and my split, everything is coming through. I feel happy today. I'm back the way I was, so I'm really happy."
The struggling Red Sox offense was quiet again, mustering just six hits en route to Boston's ninth defeat in the last 10 games. Knuckleballer Steven Wright allowed four runs (two earned) over just 4 1/3 innings and suffered his fourth loss in six starts this season.
"I thought he had some decent violence to the pitch," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, "[but] there were a few that he left up in the strike zone."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Check the tool shed: With his name peppered among the rumors ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Cespedes didn't take long to flash his power bat or his laser arm on Saturday. The left fielder threw out David Ortiz at home plate in the second inning to save a run and belted a monster first-inning solo shot to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. The home run, projected by Statcast™ to land 431 feet away, ricocheted off the top of a billboard above the Green Monster.
"It always seems like guys who get traded inevitably hit a home run against the team that traded them away for some reason," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Matter of fact, I think he hit one against Oakland this year, too, with us. He does have raw power. If you watch him in batting practice, you see raw power. But I wouldn't say he's a big power hitter. He hits doubles and singles. He's not strictly a home run hitter."
Trouble with the knuckler: Red Sox rookie catcher Blake Swihart had a tough time handling Wright's knuckleball, allowing four passed balls that led indirectly to two Tigers runs. Swihart has caught Wright a handful of times this season and, entering Saturday, he had only given up three passed balls with the righty on the mound. On this day, however, every pitch felt like an adventure.
"That's the nature of the pitch," Wright said. "Sometimes it works good and sometimes it moves too much, and it just makes it tough. Because the velocity was a little higher than it has been, it made it that much tougher." More >
Castellanos on a roll: The third baseman played a major role in getting Detroit's offense back on track, with a 2-for-4 performance on Saturday. He handed the Tigers a 4-0 lead in the fourth and tacked on another run in the sixth when he blasted a solo shot over the Green Monster. Castellanos now has three home runs in his last five games.
"He struck that ball very well, actually," Ausmus said. "He was the offensive star of the game." More >
Innings eaters: Wright did not make it through the fifth frame, but the Red Sox used only three relievers to give their overworked bullpen some needed rest. Noe Ramirez made his third Major League appearance and allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings, Justin Masterson kept the Tigers off the board in the seventh and eighth, and Craig Breslow tossed a scoreless ninth. It was the first time Masterson had pitched on back-to-back days since 2009, during his first stint with the Red Sox.
"When [Simon] drops the ball, all of a sudden [Ortiz] shifts gears and takes off again. You're obviously looking for consistent effort all the way down the line. That wasn't the case in that situation." -- Farrell, on David Ortiz's sixth-inning groundout, which Simon bobbled before retiring Ortiz at first.
"To hit it over the Green Monster? It's freaking awesome. The Green Monster is a baseball icon. Everybody knows what you're talking about when you say it. The amount of movies it's been in. I've seen this park countless times. I remember looking at this park when I was younger and seeing how tall the fence was, I'm like 'How does anyone hit it over that?' And to say I was able to do that in a game was pretty cool." -- Castellanos, on hitting his first Fenway Park homer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cespedes leads all left fielders with nine outfield assists this season. Last season, he recorded a Major League-best 16 outfield assists.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With a runner on first in the sixth inning, Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias hit a grounder to third that Pablo Sandoval shoveled underhand to second baseman Brock Holt. The high toss pulled Holt off the base, and runner James McCann was initially called safe. After the Red Sox challenged the call, the decision was overturned -- a replay review showed Holt's foot hit the bag before the runner arrived.
ALFREDO'S EARLY EXIT:
Simon's start ended in the seventh after a brief consultation with Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand on the mound. The veteran returned to the Tigers' dugout under his own power, and the team will re-evaluate him on Sunday to determine whether he can make his next scheduled start.
"At this point, we don't think it's going to be a DL assignment," Ausmus said. "Both Kevin Rand and Alfredo have said that they don't think it'll be an issue going forward." More >
Tigers: Struggling right-hander Shane Greene will try to lead Detroit to a series victory in Sunday's 8:08 p.m. ET rubber game at Fenway Park. Greene has gone 0-5 with a 12.00 ERA over his last six starts and allowed nine home runs over that span. He gave up six runs over 2 2/3 innings when he last faced Boston on Sept. 2.
Red Sox: Rookie left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez gets the ball for the series finale against the Tigers at Fenway Park. Rodriguez has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his 10 starts, but he has given up at least six runs in each of the other three. The 22-year-old was tagged for seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on Monday in Anaheim.