Wells pitched seven strong innings and gave Boston's overworked bullpen a much needed rest Sunday when the Red Sox beat Detroit 11-3 to maintain their 1½-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East.
"We've got to play tremendous ball from here on out," said Wells (11-6). "Our starting pitching has to step up a little bit more."
In their previous three games, Boston's starters allowed at least five runs. More trouble could be looming when the result of Wells' appeal of a six-game suspension for a confrontation with umpires July 22 is announced. Wells expects to learn that Monday.
"Regardless of what happens ... I'm still going to prepare myself the same way I always do," Wells said.
If his suspension remains at six games, he wouldn't pitch before next Sunday.
His absence may not hurt much if the Red Sox keep hitting as they've done, with 28 runs and 38 hits in their last three games.
"I'm not into whether they've got all the pitching or not," Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. "They wear you down offensively."
The Red Sox were led by David Ortiz's 33rd homer and three RBI, Bill Mueller's homer and three hits and Johnny Damon's two hits and three RBI as Boston outhit Detroit 14-10.
Wells gave up three runs, two earned, and nine hits with a season-high seven strikeouts. He didn't walk a batter for the sixth time in his last seven starts.
"We scored runs. He didn't give them back as rapidly as we did," said Damon about Saturday's 12-8 loss in which Boston wasted a 6-0 lead. "David Wells knows how to pitch and we need him to have a great month of September and get us back to where we need to be."
Nate Robertson (6-11) struggled after two starts in which he allowed a total of three runs and four hits in 16 innings. On Sunday, he gave up eight runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Boston's offense "does wear on us," Detroit first baseman Chris Shelton said, "especially when you get two runs yourself and they get three or four more."
Leading 4-3, the Red Sox broke the game open with four runs in the sixth.
Manny Ramirez led off with a single and scored on Jason Varitek's double. Kevin Millar walked and Tony Graffanino followed with an RBI double. After Gabe Kapler struck out for the second out, Damon doubled in two runs with his second hit of the day. Damon was 3-for-22 in his previous five games.
Mueller singled in a run in the seventh and Ortiz added a two-run homer in the eighth. Mueller also made two outstanding stops down the third-base line after making a throwing error.
"After that he made some of the best plays," Boston manager Terry Francona said, "spinning around, getting his feet under him, making long throws, swinging the bat. We love him."
The game was tied 1-all after the first on an RBI double by Ordonez and a run-scoring single by Ortiz. Boston went ahead 3-1 in the third on a sacrifice fly by Kapler and an RBI single by Damon.
Shelton's sacrifice fly cut the lead to 3-2 in the third before Mueller's eighth homer of the season put the Red Sox on top 4-2 in the fourth.
Detroit nearly tied the game in the fifth when Shelton doubled in a run then tried to score when first baseman Millar booted Ordonez's grounder for an error. Millar chased the ball down and threw to catcher Varitek, who made a swiping tag to nip Shelton at the plate.
|Jason Varitek's BoSox have scored 28 runs and belted 38 hits over their last three games. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Placido Polanco, 2B||5||2||1||0||0||0||0||.334|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||5||1||3||0||0||0||1||.272|
|Chris Shelton, 1B||3||0||1||2||0||1||2||.314|
|Magglio Ordonez, RF||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||.315|
|Dmitri Young, DH||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.271|
|Craig Monroe, LF||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.282|
|John McDonald, SS||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.295|
|Vance Wilson, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.183|
|Nook Logan, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.262|
|2B - Brandon Inge 2 (27, Wells, Wells), Chris Shelton (18, Wells), Magglio Ordonez (14, Wells)|
|SF - Chris Shelton (3)|
|RBI - Chris Shelton 2 (46), Magglio Ordonez (39)|
|2-OUT RBI - Magglio Ordonez (9)|
|SB - Craig Monroe (8, 2nd base off Wells/Varitek)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Outfield Assists - Craig Monroe 1|
|DP - Polanco-McDonald-Shelton|
|E - Placido Polanco (2, Misplayed grounder)|
|Nate Robertson (L,6-11)||5.2||9||8||8||3||5||1||4.16|
|WP - Franklyn German (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Nate Robertson 97-62, Franklyn German 20-11, Chris Spurling 19-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nate Robertson 5-6, Chris Spurling 4-1|
|Batters Faced - Nate Robertson 28, Franklyn German 6, Chris Spurling 7|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Johnny Damon, CF||4||1||2||3||1||1||0||.325|
|Edgar Renteria, SS||5||0||1||0||0||2||1||.289|
|Alex Cora, PR-SS||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.222|
|David Ortiz, DH||5||2||3||3||0||1||0||.295|
|Manny Ramirez, LF||5||1||2||0||0||0||1||.289|
|Jason Varitek, C||4||1||1||1||1||1||2||.300|
|Kevin Millar, 1B||3||2||1||0||1||0||3||.270|
|John Olerud, 1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.296|
|Bill Mueller, 3B||4||2||3||2||0||0||2||.303|
|Tony Graffanino, 2B||3||1||1||1||1||0||5||.311|
|Gabe Kapler, RF||3||0||0||1||0||1||6||.234|
|2B - Manny Ramirez (28, German), Jason Varitek (28, Robertson), Bill Mueller (29, Robertson), Tony Graffanino (12, Robertson)|
|HR - David Ortiz (33, Spurling), Bill Mueller (8, Robertson)|
|SF - Gabe Kapler (1)|
|RBI - Johnny Damon 3 (63), David Ortiz 3 (115), Jason Varitek (62), Bill Mueller 2 (55), Tony Graffanino (30), Gabe Kapler (8)|
|2-OUT RBI - Johnny Damon 3 (29), Bill Mueller (24)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|E - Kevin Millar (7, Misplayed grounder, Ordonez thrown out advancing), Bill Mueller (10, Wild throw)|
|Boston Red Sox|
|David Wells (W,11-6)||7||9||3||2||0||7||0||4.44|
|WP - David Wells (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - David Wells 115-85, Chad Bradford 17-11, Abe Alvarez 12-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - David Wells 11-4, Chad Bradford 1-2|
|Batters Faced - David Wells 31, Chad Bradford 4, Abe Alvarez 3|
|Attendance - 34568|
|Game Time - 2:50|
|Temperature - 83|
|Umpires - Home - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Larry Vanover, Second Base - Randy Marsh, Third Base - Jim Wolf|