Ortiz HR lifts Sox, but Tigers get split
David Ortiz hasn't played the field in so long that he isn't even sure where he last left his glove.
Even so, he takes pride in being a designated hitter.
That's why it was unusual when he hit a pinch-hit homer Sunday — his first since 2003, when he did it for his first Boston home run.
Ortiz homered off Jose Valverde in the ninth inning to give Boston a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in the opener of Sunday's day-night doubleheader. Detroit won the nightcap 3-0, ending Boston's five-game winning streak and preventing the Red Sox from sweeping the six-game season series.
''I don't like pinch-hitting too much, but I did just what I do as a DH,'' Ortiz said. ''I went to the cages, took some swings and got loose.''
Ortiz, hitting for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, worked a full count against the Tigers' closer, then hit a line drive over the scoreboard in right-center.
''Valverde is so tough on right-handed hitters, it seemed like a easy decision with David sitting there,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ''He worked the count and got a great swing.''
Ortiz had only faced Valverde one other time. On July 30 last year, he hit a ninth-inning grand slam.
''I was waiting for one pitch, and he gave it to me,'' Ortiz said.
Ortiz couldn't make it three-for-three, however, as Valverde retired him for the final out of the nightcap.
Oliver struggled badly in the first inning of his season debut, allowing a double, a walk, a hit batter and four stolen bases, but somehow escaped down just 1-0 on Adrian Gonzalez's sacrifice fly.
''My slide step was a little slow in the first inning,'' Oliver said of the stolen bases. ''From the second inning on, I relaxed and got focused on keeping guys off the bases.''
The Red Sox got solo homers from Mike Cameron and Pedroia in the next two innings, but Boston's offense stalled util Ortiz's homer in the ninth.
Andy Dirks homered in the fourth, and Boesch's fourth homer pulled the Tigers with a run in the sixth.
Cabrera followed with a double, took third on Martinez's groundout and scored on Jhonny Peralta's single.
''Beckett's stuff was up in the first inning, and he gave up a couple runs,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ''After that, Verlander never gave us a chance. He's one of the best in baseball. We made him work, but the higher he got into the pitch count, the harder he threw.''
Verlander (5-3) allowed four hits and walked two, throwing a career-high 132 pitches. The pitch count matched the highest by a Tigers pitcher since Felipe Lira threw 135 on Aug. 11, 1996.
''He's a real proud guy, and you could see the determination in his eyes,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''I checked with him, he said he was fine, and he was up for the challenge.''
Leyland said he will take advantage of Thursday's off day to give Verlander an extra day off between starts.
Beckett (4-2) gave up two runs on five hits and a season-high five walks in six innings.
Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save, finishing a 10-hour day that included a 50-minute rain delay before the second game.
NOTES: Before the first game, the Red Sox placed reliever Franklin Morales on the 15-day disabled list and recalled right-handed reliever Michael Bowden. ... The second game of the doubleheader was not originally scheduled to be televised, because of ESPN's exclusive Sunday-night contract, but a waiver was reached Sunday afternoon that allowed the game to be shown in both Boston and Detroit. ... Leyland had said he hoped moving slumping Ryan Raburn to second base would give him a ''new season.'' Raburn went 0-4 with three strikeouts, dropping his season batting average to .195, and was out of the lineup for the nightcap. ... Edwin Jackson was the last Tiger to throw 132 pitches, doing it on May 21, 2009. Steve Sparks also had two games of 132 pitches.