Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Peņa breaks through

Slumping slugger gets 4 hits, 4 RBIs

CLEVELAND -- He already had a single in his first at-bat, but Wily Mo Peña wasn't entirely comfortable. That's why, on a hittable fastball in the fourth inning last night, Peña merely got enough of it to fly to right field. And he wasn't happy.

"In my second at-bat, I got beat with a fastball," Peña said, after the Red Sox beat the Indians, 14-9, at Jacobs Field. "It was right there to hit it out of the stadium. So I got beat because I wasn't ready. That fastball got me.

"So when I got back to the dugout, I said to myself, 'You have to get on time on those balls.' I'm a fastball hitter, so I can't get beat on those fastballs. So, from now on, I won't."

Peña made good on his promise, completing three-quarters of the cycle by the end of the game -- two doubles and a home run accompanying his third-inning single.

Even with all of his struggles this season, he knows he can feast on fastballs. If there's one ripe for the taking, he simply can't miss it.

He saw just seven pitches in five at-bats and swung at six of them.

"I think everybody's happy for him," manager Terry Francona said. "He swung the bat really, really well.

"[He] gave us a big boost. That's what he can do."

It's also what he hasn't been doing lately. Just 6 for his previous 49, Peña had been floundering before his third career four-hit game and his second of the season.

"The last couple games, I've been struggling," Peña said. "I wasn't getting anything. So I just said to myself, 'Get in there and try to do the best I can.' That feels great.

"I've been working hard. I feel more confident tonight."

He looked it, too. After the game, Peña spoke to the media around his locker, as Julio Lugo began a "Wily Mo! Wily Mo!" chant behind the crowd. Peña looked relieved. Those chants haven't exactly been common during his time in Boston.

But last night was a most welcome exception, noticed and applauded by his teammates. They know exactly how hard and how far he can hit a fastball, like the 404-foot home run he hit in the seventh, a three-run shot that meant the Indians' four-run seventh didn't mean quite so much.

"He killed those [expletive]," David Ortiz offered.

After two runs, four RBIs, and four hits, Peña could laugh and joke. He boasted he could hit a home run as far as the one hit by Manny Ramírez in the second inning, the third longest ever at Jacobs Field. A 481-foot shot is well within the realm of possibility for the strongman who, instead, sent a screamer into the first few rows in left field with his three-run shot.

It won't be quite that easy to wipe away the struggles Peña has endured this season, just as they didn't go away with his first four-hit game May 3 or with his grand slam in Baltimore off Chris Ray April 26. That can only happen gradually, and with more at-bats and with more success, no matter what Peña says or what he wants.

"Now everything can go away," Peña said, with hope in his voice. "Move on."