DETROIT In the first game of their rain-induced, split day-night doubleheader, the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 4-3, on David Ortizs ninth-inning pinch-hit home run off Jose Valverde.
Ortiz went to the plate for the 97th pinch-hit plate appearance of his career and just his second time facing Valverde. In his only other time facing the Tigers closer Ortiz hit a grand slam.
Both starting pitchers threw quality starts but were not involved in the decision, departing after six innings with the scored tied, 3-3.
Clay Buchholz gave up three runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts and two home runs. He threw 98 pitches, 63 for strikes. Including his 127-pitch outing May 18 against the Tigers at Fenway Park, Buchholz has three straight no-decisions, but quality starts for all three. Before this game, Buchholz had not given up more than one home run in an outing since his first start of the season 1st start, a loss April 3 in Texas, when he allowed four.
Left-hander Andy Oliver, making his first start of the season after being called up on Saturday, went six innings, giving up three runs on five this and three walks, with three strikeouts, two home runs, a hit batter, and a wild pitch.
The Sox put singe runs up in each of the first three innings. In the first, Jacoby Ellsbury led off with double, stole third for his 19th steal of the season, and scored on Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly to center.
Mike Camerons solo home run to left field with one out in the second put the Sox ahead, 2-0, and Dusting Pedroia led off the third with his fourth homer of the season.
But staked to a three-run lead, Buchholz could not hold on. He gave up a lead-off homer to Andy Dirks in the fourth for the Tigers first run. With one out in the sixth, he gave up a solo homer to Brennan Boesch, followed by a double to Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinezs groundout to Gonzalez at first moved Cabrera to third. Jhonny Peraltas single to center scored Cabrera, tying the game.
Reliever Matt Albers threw two scoreless innings to earn the win for Boston, as well as his first win as a member of the Red Sox. He is now 1-2 with a 3.54 ERA.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the Sox fifth straight win and his 10th save of the season. The Sox are now 5-1 on the seven-game road trip.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: David Ortiz
Ortiz had faced Jose Valverde just once before in his career. On July 30, 2010, at Fenway Park, with one out in the ninth inning, Ortiz blasted a grand slam off Valverde. In the first game of the Sox doubleheader Sunday, Ortiz hit a pinch-hit, one-out, ninth-inning solo homer to give the Sox a 4-3 win. Two plate appearances, two home runs, five RBI. The only difference: Ortizs home run today provided the difference in the Red Sox win. Last year, it merely gave the Sox a one-run loss.
The homer was also Ortizs fourth career pinch-hit home run and first since April 27, 2003 his first home run with the Red Sox, in Anaheim. It was Ortizs 11th homer of the season, eighth in May and second through six games of the seven-game road trip.
HONORABLE MENTION: Andy Oliver
Oliver, called up Saturday to make his first start of the season, gave the Tigers what their previous two starters Max Scherzer on Thursday and Rick Porcello on Friday were unable to give them: a quality start. Oliver went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts, two home runs, a hit batter, and a wild pitch. It was his first career appearance against the Red Sox.
He was shaky in his first inning, facing six batters in the first, giving up a lead-off double to Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk to Dustin Pedroia, a sacrifice fly to Adrian Gonzalez, and hitting Kevin Youkilis with a pitch. But he held the Sox to just one run in the inning. He gave up single runs in the second and third, on solo homers by Mike Cameron and Pedroia, respectively, but appeared to settle down as the game went on.
THE GOAT: Jose Valverde
Valverde did not learn his lesson on July 30, 2010 the only other time he faced David Ortiz. On that day, he challenged Ortiz in the ninth inning with one out and three on base. Ortiz blasted a grand slam. On that day, though, Valverde escaped, as the Tigers won, 6-5.
On Sunday he would not be so fortunate. With one out in the ninth inning, he again challenged Ortiz, this time with a 3-2, 95-mph fastball. Ortiz did not miss his chance, blasting the pitch into the centerfield seats, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead.
THE TURNING POINT
Although the Sox failed to extend their lead against Oliver -- who was called up to make this start going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, Ortiz took care of that in the ninth inning. With one out, facing Jose Valverde for just the second time in his career, Ortiz bashed a 3-2, 95-mph fastball into the centerfield seats, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead, and ultimately, their fifth straight win, going 5-1 in their first six games of the seven-game road trip.
STAT OF THE DAY: 4.000
Going 2-for-2 in his career against Valverde, Ortiz has a slugging percentage of 4.000 against the Tigers closer, with five RBI, and an on-base percentage of 1.000.
QUOTE OF NOTE
Just go to the cage, get some swings, and make sure youre loose, make sure youre ready to go. -- David Ortiz, on being prepared to pinch-hit
MaureenMullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen