DETROIT -- The Red Sox fought back from the verge of a third straight loss to the Tigers with a four-run eighth inning, punctuated by Sandy Leon's go-ahead two-run single, for a 7-5 Boston victory Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
It was the second eighth-inning rally in three days for the Red Sox, who had a five-run frame in Friday's series opener. Unlike that day, this rally held up, giving Boston a chance to salvage a series split when aces Justin Verlander and Chris Sale face off in Monday's wraparound series finale.
"Particularly the way this series has gone, I couldn't be more proud of the way we once again came back," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We tied it up. We gave it right back. We come back and answer once again. We're able to mount a sizeable inning late in the ballgame."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Walks haunt: Though Betts' leadoff walk off Rondon started the rally, the key pass came two batters later with two on and first base open. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus chose not to pitch to Moreland and instead put him on, loading the bases and leaving Ryan no room for error upon his entrance. Holt pinch-hit and didn't swing at any of his five pitches, walking to tie the game.
"It's not ideal, but it was basically the only way I thought we could get out of it with the lead," Ausmus said. "If you don't load the bases, you've got to pull the infield in with no outs. Then a bloop or a squib between the drawn-in infield, and they've got the lead. This is the one way we were able to possibly keep the lead. It just didn't work out." More >
Kimbrel halts Tigers rally: The Tigers threatened their second late-inning rally in three days once closer Craig Kimbrel walked Kinsler and Castellanos to begin the ninth. Victor Martinez singled home Kinsler and put the potential tying run on base, but Kimbrel regrouped to strike out Justin Upton and Tyler Collins and hold on.
"Craig wasn't sharp, he'll get better," Farrell said. "But, still, to finish it out, to close it out, a good win."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Miguel Cabrera's first-inning single ended an 0-for-12 slump, the longest season-opening hitless streak of his career. In fact, he hadn't gone back-to-back games hitless to open any other season. His single Sunday was a line drive through the right side hit 111.2 mph, according to Statcast™.
Betts has gone 87 plate appearances without a strikeout, the longest streak by a Boston player since Hall of Famer Wade Boggs went 107 plate appearances without a K in 1991.
Farrrell won a key challenge in the top of the seventh. Dustin Pedroia hit a grounder to short, and the Tigers tried to turn an inning-ending double play, and initially were awarded for doing so. But after Farrell's challenge, second baseman Kinsler was ruled off the bag, and Marco Hernandez was safe at second.
"He's got to be touching the base," Ausmus said of Kinsler. "That's the rule."
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: In a marquee pitching matchup, Sale will face Verlander on Monday. The two pitchers have combined for 11 All-Star appearances and this is the fifth time they've faced each other. The Red Sox will get shortstop Xander Bogaerts back in the lineup after he missed three games on the bereavement list. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.
Tigers: Verlander matches up opposite Sale for the third time since last August, hoping to build off of 6 1/3 quality innings against Sale's former team, the White Sox, on Opening Day.