Bowden was sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket after the game -- a 4-1 Red Sox win -- and Boston is expected to use his roster spot to activate shortstop Julio Lugo from the disabled list for Monday's game in Cleveland. Still, the right-hander made his mark, tossing two perfect innings of relief in the victory.
To make room for Bowden, the Red Sox optioned utility man Gil Velazquez to Pawtucket.
Bowden is a starter by trade. In fact, he won his Major League debut for the Red Sox last August. But his role on Sunday was to be a long reliever in the event of an early knockout of starter Justin Masterson or an extra-inning game.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona was determined not to use closer Jonathan Papelbon or setup men Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez in Sunday's game.
Papelbon threw 17 pitches on Friday and another 30 to close out Saturday's game. Delcarmen was needed for 38 pitches in Saturday's 16-11 win after pitching an inning on Friday. Ramirez also worked the first two games against New York.
Facing a save situation on Sunday, the Red Sox turned to Takashi Saito, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning.
Francona felt the team had no chance but to play with only three bench players on Sunday in order to have an extra pitcher.
"Michael knows he's here for tonight -- he won't go on the road trip," Francona said. "We'll switch out and get our infielder [Monday]."
That infielder, barring a last-minute change in plans, will be Lugo. Coming off right knee surgery, Lugo played a four-game rehab assignment with Pawtucket, going 4-for-17. He served as the designated hitter on Sunday, going 2-for-5.
"He seems to be moving well," Francona said. "He's not favoring his leg or anything like that. I do think he needs to [play] -- the more he plays, the better he'll be. His strength in his legs is very good. He's worked hard, so that's good. I'm sure there's a little rust there."
The Red Sox won't ask too much of Lugo too quickly because they have a backup in Nick Green who has done well filling in.
"Some of it is going to depend on how [Lugo] feels," Francona said. "We get into Tampa at 4 in the morning [Thursday], we go to turf. We're not going to just turn him loose because he's on our roster and hurt him. We'll use some common sense."
Green entered Sunday's game hitting .302 with a homer and seven RBIs.
"We kind of have Nick here as our utility guy," Francona said. "He's done a really good job filling in. I think it can make our team better when we have some flexibility to move him around. Again, he played a little outfield, he can play second, he can play third. Lugo is, I think, sitting on nine at-bats. It has a chance to really work out well for our team."
For Green, who came into camp as third on Boston's depth chart at shortstop, all of the recent playing time has been welcome.
"I've been fortunate enough to be able to play every day for a while. It's something you want to do, and I want to keep doing it, but ultimately that's out of my hands," Green said. "It's good to get Julio back. He's a big part of the team. Any guy you can get back is helpful. As far as I'm concerned, I just do whatever they tell me to do."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.