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Justin Upton's 6-RBI day salvages split with Red Sox

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Justin Upton of the Tigers celebrates hitting a three-run home run in the third inning during a 10-5 win against the Red Sox at Comerica Park Sunday.

Detroit — It’s been a struggle to this point, but the Tigers would dearly love to see more of this kind of Justin Upton offensive production.

His two-home run, six-RBI game Sunday showed there’s a chance of a turnaround, Upton’s offensive heroics helping the Tigers defeat Boston 10-5.

Given a few days off to regroup after a 1-for-31 slump Upton had two hits Saturday including a double that just missed being a home run, then exploded for two long home runs Sunday, giving him 15 for the season.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 10, Red Sox 5

If the Tigers are to rally and secure a playoff berth, having the streaky Upton on a tear would be greatly beneficial.

“Obviously he’s been a factor in past seasons, he’s been an offensive force at times,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “It would be great if his bat would be like it’s been in the past.

“He put good swings on, he looked good at the plate (Sunday). He looked good mechanically, he looked confident. Obviously good results.”

It was Upton’s 12th multi-home run game of his career — and second this season (June 20 against Seattle, the other). The six RBIs in a game tied a career-high.

“Honestly, at this point of my career, I can say I was not putting pressure on myself,” said Upton of his season-long struggles. “I just want to perform. Nobody likes to struggle. But at the end of the day, I was kind of buried in it.

“This is a good day.”

While Upton hopes to maintain his hot streak, J.D. Martinez continues on his.

Martinez opened the scoring with a two-run double, had two doubles, extended his season-long his streak to 12 games in which he’s hitting .458 (22-for-48).

Boston manager John Farrell decided to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera and load the bases with two outs not an easy choice there  to pitch to Martinez in the third inning.

Martinez made the Red Sox pay with a double down the first-base line, scoring two runs.

“J.D. makes an out and that’s the right decision, and if  he doesn’t, it was the wrong decision,” said Ausmus of Farrell’s difficult choice. “The truth is J.D. didn’t really hit the ball awfully hard, he got a change-up off the end of the bat and put it down the (first-base) line.

“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Simple as that.”

Upton then followed with a long home run to the left-field grandstand, giving the Tigers a 5-0 lead.

After Cabrera singled and Martinez doubled with two out in the fifth, Upton blasted his second homer of the day off left-hander Henry Owens (0-1), giving the Tigers an 8-0 lead.

Cameron Maybin added a two-run single in his first game after a thumb injury.

“Cam normally is part of that (energy),” said Ausmus of what Maybin brings to the lineup. “Justin Upton was the energy (Sunday).”

Justin Verlander (13-7) gladly accepted all the offense but didn’t need much help.

Verlander allowed one run and three hits over six innings, walking one and striking out five.

“You have to be on your game from pitch one to the end of the game,” Verlander said. “And it goes a long way, your guys putting up runs early, especially when every guy in that (Boston) lineup can hurt you. Getting more than a one-run lead really helps.”

Shane Greene relieved Verlander to begin the seventh inning and allowed four runs, including rookie Andrew Benintendi’s two-run home run Benintendi’s first career homer  to cut the lead to 10-5.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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Maybin quickly contributes in return to lineup