DETROIT (AP) – Wily Mo Pena’s latest home run was a long one.
Almost as long as his road back to the major leagues.
Pena hit a towering solo shot in the eighth inning, and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Detroit Tigers 7-6 on Friday night. It was Pena’s second homer in 15 at-bats since being called up from the minors earlier this week. This hit went an estimated 454 feet over the left-field fence – the third-longest homer at Comerica Park since it opened in 2000.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew that ball was out,” Pena said.
Pena played for Cincinnati, Boston and Washington from 2002-08, but he’d been out of the majors since his 2008 season ended with a torn labrum.
Pena was hitting .363 with 21 homers for Reno of the Pacific Coast League when the Diamondbacks brought him up this week. They’ve been able to use him as a designated hitter in American League ballparks during interleague play.
“I worked hard the past season to come back here,” Pena said. “I just have to be patient. They’re not throwing me that many good pitches.”
Pena’s two-out homer off David Purcey (1-1) broke a 6-all tie and landed in the final rows of seats under the big scoreboard at Comerica. It was the longest homer by a visiting player at the ballpark.
“He hit one in Reno before I got there that supposedly went about 500 feet,” Arizona reliever Bryan Shaw said. “He’s hit some balls far.”
Esmerling Vasquez (1-1) pitched a scoreless seventh for Arizona. David Hernandez worked the eighth, and J.J. Putz finished for his 21st save.
Arizona trailed 4-0 after three innings but rallied to tie it at 6 before Pena connected. Purcey hadn’t allowed a run in his first eight appearances since Oakland traded him to the Tigers in late May.
“Looks like he hung a slider to him and he crushed it,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “But that really wasn’t the game. We didn’t shut them down. We had a chance to put them away and didn’t do it.”
Neither starting pitcher had his best stuff. Detroit’s Phil Coke went 4 2-3 innings, allowing six runs – five earned – and seven hits. Fellow left-hander Zach Duke pitched four innings for the Diamondbacks, giving up six runs and seven hits.
Jhonny Peralta helped Detroit get off to a fast start, hitting a two-run double off the left-field fence in the first inning, missing a grand slam by only a few feet. Casper Wells and Magglio Ordonez started the bottom of the third with back-to-back doubles, and Victor Martinez drove in another run with a single.
The Diamondbacks immediately answered against Coke. After Kelly Johnson walked to lead off the fourth, Detroit second baseman Ryan Raburn misplayed Justin Upton’s groundball for an error. After Chris Young’s single loaded the bases, Stephen Drew hit a sacrifice fly.
Xavier Nady and Pena followed with back-to-back RBI singles to make it 4-3.
The Tigers added two runs in the bottom half when Austin Jackson hit a two-out triple and Wells followed with his fourth homer.
Then it was Arizona’s turn to rally with two out. Upton singled, Young walked and Drew was called safe on a close play after first baseman Miguel Cabrera made a nice stop on his grounder and flipped the ball to Coke covering first.
Nady hit a two-run single, knocking Coke out of the game with the score 6-5. Ryan Perry came on for his first appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo. He threw a wild pitch to allow the tying run to score but went on to strike out Pena to end the threat.
Shaw pitched the fifth and sixth for Arizona, holding the Tigers to two hits and striking out two.
Upton kept the game tied when he ran down Wells’ sixth-inning line drive and caught it on the warning track before slamming into the right-field wall. Brandon Inge would have scored easily from second had the ball eluded Upton.
“Obviously, it was a phenomenal catch,” Shaw said. “That run scores if he doesn’t make that play.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)