Red Sox lose opener to Tigers, 3-2

Red Sox lose opener to Tigers, 3-2
April 5, 2012, 8:21 pm
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DETROIT -- On the first day of the 2012 season, Justin Verlander picked up right where he left off in 2011.
So did the Red Sox.
The Tigers' right-hander -- the 2011 A.L. MVP and Cy Young Award winner -- shut out the Sox on two hits over eight innings and seemed headed for victory when he handed a 2-0 lead to closer Jose Valverde . . . who converted all 49 of his save opportunities last year.
The Red Sox, losers of 20 of their last 27 in the final month of last season, rallied for two runs off Valverde and tied the score. But -- like they did so often last September -- they flubbed away the chance for a stirring victory when the bullpen tag team of Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves gave up the winning run and the Sox dropped their opener, 3-2, Thursday afternoon ay Comerica Park.
Trailing 2-0, Dustin Pedroia led off the ninth with a double to right and moved to third on a single by Adrian Gonzalez. David Ortiz drove him home with a sacrifice fly, making it 2-1.
Valverde seemed poised to close it out when he struck out Kevin Youkilis. But pinch-runner Darnell McDonald stole second and came home on a game-trying triple into the right-field corner by Ryan Sweeney.
Melancon, however, set the stage by allowing one-out singles to Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila. Manager Bobby Valentine called on Aceves, who hit Ramon Santiago to load the bases. And Austin Jackson then shot a hot grounder down the third-base line past Nick Punto for the game-winning hit.
Only once did the Sox manage to get two runners on base in the same inning against Verlander. But he struck out Ortiz with Pedroia on second and Gonzalez on first to end the sixth.
Jon Lester matched Verlander nearly pitch for pitch, but finally blinked in the seventh. With two outs and nobody on, he allowed back-to-back doubles to Peralta and Avila, pushing across the game's first run.
Detroit made it 2-0 in the eighth off Vicente Padilla on a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder.