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Published: Tuesday, 5/6/2008

Bosox top Tigers after Joyce departs hot Hens for icy parent club

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Manny Ramirez, right, scored on Mike Lowell's home run. Manny Ramirez, right, scored on Mike Lowell's home run.
PAUL SANCYA / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - Matt Joyce was summoned to Comerica Park from Toledo yesterday, but his Mud Hens magic stayed behind at Fifth Third Field.

Joyce went 0-for-2 with a walk in his major league debut, and the now-floundering Tigers fell 6-3 to the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

Detroit, loser of its last four games and currently dwelling in the American League Central's basement, dumped Jacque Jones and purchased Joyce's contract before last night's contest.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland also inserted Gary Sheffield into left field, dropped him to sixth in the batting order, and hit Carlos Guillen, Edgar Renteria and Ivan Rodriguez in different spots.

Joyce, who'd been swinging a hot bat for the scorching Hens, batted seventh and played right field.

Neither he nor his new teammates could save the Tigers, who seem to be in disarray every other week.

"I'd wish for a little better start, but overall it was a blast," Joyce said of his first big-league game. "I couldn't ask for anything else other than a hit."

Joyce, 23, was chosen for promotion over Clete Thomas, another outfielder who batted .295 in 18 games with the Tigers earlier this year.

Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said the team needs left-handed hitters, and Joyce, Jones and Thomas all swing from the left side.

Joyce was already dressed for Hens batting practice when he learned the news. He said Toledo manager Larry Parrish called him into his office and tricked him into thinking he was being sent to Double-A Erie for not running hard enough on a couple balls Sunday.

When Parrish switched gears and told him he was being shipped to Detroit, Joyce was more than surprised.

"I don't think surprised was the word," Joyce said. "More like disbelief."

Joyce's best chance to be a hero in his debut came in the fifth inning with two runners on and two outs against Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka. He smoked a line drive to right, but J.D. Drew reeled it in.

Leyland pulled Joyce with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh when the Red Sox turned to left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima.

Marcus Thames pinch hit and laced a two-run single to left to cut Boston's lead to 5-3, but Okajima and closer Jonathan Papelbon retired Detroit's last seven hitters.

Matsuzaka (5-0) walked a career-high eight batters in five innings, but gave up only one run. The Tigers (14-19) left runners on base in every inning against him.

"Basically, we let a real good pitcher who wasn't real good tonight off the hook," Leyland said.

Tigers starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman (2-3) was victimized by two-run homers from Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis.

Many Ramirez doubled to lead off the second inning and scored on Lowell's first homer this season.

Lowell doubled to start the fourth and scored on Youkilis' blast.

Sheffield, in his first game playing in the field this season, caught a Lowell fly ball in the seventh that may have otherwise crept over the wall for another homer.

Sheffield also flied out and walked three times in his new spot in the order.

Reliever Clay Rapada, another Toledo call-up, allowed his first run in nine appearances this season on David Ortiz's RBI single in the seventh.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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