DETROIT — David Ortiz had a pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning off Jose Valverde to give the Boston Red Sox a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in the opener of Sunday's day-night doubleheader.
Ortiz, pinch-hitting for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, worked a full count against the Tigers' closer, then hit a line drive over the scoreboard in right-center.
Boston has won 13 of 15, including five in a row. They will go for a sweep of their four-game visit to Detroit in the nightcap, with aces Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander pitching.
Matt Albers (1-2) picked up the win with two shutout innings of relief, while Valverde (2-2) took the loss. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save.
Boston's Clay Buchholz and Detroit rookie Andy Oliver each pitched six innings and allowed three runs.
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. Tigers catcher Victor Martinez didn't even get off a throw on any of the stolen bases, which included a double steal by Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.
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 started Detroit's rally with a homer in the fourth, and Brennan Boesch's fourth home run pulled the Tigers to 3-2 in the sixth.
Miguel Cabrera followed with a double, took third on Martinez's groundout and scored on Jhonny Peralta's single.
Before the 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. … Tigers manager Jim 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.