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Red Sox top Tigers 6-3 to finally climb above .500

Elise Amendola | AP
Elise Amendola | AP
Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz, right, celebrates his solo home run against the Detroit Tigers with Kevin Youkilis (20) during the seventh inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Tuesday, May 29, 2012. Tigers catcher Alex Avila is at center.
The Associated Press

BOSTON — After swinging through a 99-mph fastball on a 3-1 count, Daniel Nava had a pretty good idea what the next pitch from Justin Verlander would be.

Verlander threw one even harder, hitting 100 mph, but Nava drove it down the left-field line for a two-out double with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and the Boston Red Sox went on to beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 on Tuesday night and move above .500 for the first time this season.

“I tried to just calm myself down and keep it simple,” said Nava, whose bases-clearing double put Boston up 4-0 against the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young winner.

The Red Sox tagged Verlander for 10 hits and improved to 25-24, finally achieving a winning record after going 0-5 in games that could have put them above .500. Boston fans had to wait a while to enjoy the moment because of a 38-minute rain delay with one out in the bottom of the eighth.

“I don’t think that’s something we’re saying — ‘finally,'” Nava said. “We’re looking at it like we’ve got good momentum. We’ve got things going in the right direction. If you see the scoreboard, in the AL East things are still pretty tight. There’s a lot of season left.”

David Ortiz homered and hit two doubles to lead the Red Sox, who were without second baseman Dustin Pedroia a day after he aggravated a thumb injury. Pedroia said after the game he has a slight muscle tear, but hopes to avoid going on the disabled list.

The Red Sox did just fine without their peskiest hitter and did it against one of the top pitchers in the AL.

Verlander (5-3) lost his second straight start since taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Pittsburgh on May 18. He allowed five runs on 10 hits, struck out seven and walked one in six innings.

“I felt like they made a really good adjustment against me. I felt like I was actually pitching decent and they were hitting some decent pitches,” Verlander said. “Obviously this is a good lineup and they were more than capable of doing that. I can’t say I pitched bad, but it was a battle because of the way that they were putting together at-bats against me.”

Daniel Bard (5-5) pitched 5 1-3 innings for Boston, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Boston used four relievers before Alfredo Aceves came in after the rain delay and finished the eighth, then held the Tigers scoreless in the ninth for his 12th save.

Jhonny Peralta and Prince Fielder hit solo homers for the Tigers, who fell to 0-2 in the four-game series.

“Hopefully we can bust some hits together, get a few more guys hitting,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “There’s been too many dead spots in our lineup so far this year up to this point. We’ve shown signs of breaking out of it at times but we just haven’t done it consistently.”

Verlander hadn’t allowed 10 hits in a game since September 2010. Boston got four alone in a three-run fourth inning. Kevin Youkilis, Mike Aviles and Scott Podsednik all singled to load the bases before Nava’s two-out double.

“That at-bat was as good an at-bat as I’ve seen in years. A 100-mph fastball on a 3-2 pitch,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said of Nava’s hit. “It was a great competition.”

Verlander came in with 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings against Boston, but the streak ended in the second when Ortiz led off with a double off the Green Monster and scored on a fielder’s choice by Mike Aviles, who avoided a double play by beating out Peralta’s throw.

Peralta hit a solo homer in the fifth for the Tigers’ first run and Fielder added a solo shot in the sixth.

Ortiz hit his second double of the game in the fifth, bringing Adrian Gonzalez all the way in from first for a 5-1 lead. Ortiz tried to push it for a triple and was easily thrown out at third.

Ortiz atoned for the base-running mistake with a homer to left in the seventh.

Notes: Verlander pitched at least six innings for the 53rd straight start, dating to Aug. 22, 2010. It marks the longest such streak by a pitcher since Steve Carlton’s 69-game run from 1979-82. … This was the longest the Red Sox took to go above .500 since 1996, when Boston finally improved to 66-65 on Aug. 25. … Red Sox OF Carl Crawford said he is about 10 days away from starting to throw as he continues his rehab from a sore left elbow.

WHITE SOX 7, RAYS 2: Philip Humber won for the first time since throwing a perfect game in April, helping the Chicago White Sox extend their winning streak to seven games with a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

Hideki Matsui homered in his Tampa Bay debut. The Rays purchased the 2009 World Series MVP’s contract from Triple-A Durham before the game.

Humber (2-2) was 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA over six starts since his gem against Seattle on April 21. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings Tuesday.

Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo both had two RBIs for the White Sox, who have won six in a row on the road.

Ramirez had an RBI double during a five-run sixth against James Shields (6-3) as Chicago took a 6-2 lead. A.J. Pierzynski, Viciedo and Orlando Hudson hit run-scoring singles, while Alejandro De Aza drove in a run with a grounder.

Shields gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings.

Matsui put the Rays ahead 2-0 on a long homer to right off Humber in the fourth. It was his first homer since Sept. 19 against Texas while with Oakland.

BLUE JAYS 8, ORIOLES 6: Brett Lawrie had three hits and three RBIs, and Ricky Romero won for the seventh time in nine starts against Baltimore to lead Toronto.

Romero (6-1) improved to 7-1 with a 2.43 ERA in his past nine starts against the Orioles.

Adam Jones hit two homers, extending his hitting streak to 20 games, and Chris Davis added a two-run drive in the ninth but it wasn’t enough for Baltimore. The Orioles have lost four straight and seven of nine, but remain tied with Tampa Bay atop the AL East.

Romero allowed four runs and six hits in six innings to win his second in five starts.

Jake Arrieta (2-6) gave up seven runs, six earned, and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.

ROYALS 8, INDIANS 2: Mike Moustakas had a career-best four RBIs to help rookie Will Smith get his first major league win, leading Kansas City over Cleveland.

Moustakas hit a two-run homer off Justin Masterson (2-4) in the first and singled in two runs in the second.

That was more than enough support for Smith (1-1), who allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. The left-hander rebounded after being thumped by the Yankees in his debut last week.

Humberto Quintero added two RBIs as the Royals improved to 15-11 on the road.

METS 6, PHILLIES 3: Jeremy Hefner earned his first victory in the majors, highlighting the occasion by homering for his first big league hit as the New York Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 on a rainy Tuesday night.

The 26-year-old rookie became the first major league pitcher to hit his first homer in his first win since 2002, when Dennis Tankersley did it with San Diego, STATS LLC said.

Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston had a two-run homer and newcomer Omar Quintanilla doubled twice and singled to help New York win for the fourth time in five games. After a storm delay of 64 minutes in the eighth inning, the Mets improved to 6-2 against Philadelphia this year.

Earlier in the day, the last-place Phillies learned ace Roy Halladay is expected to be out six to eight weeks because of a strained right shoulder.

Hefner (1-2) pitched six innings and finished strong after a shaky beginning in his second major league start. He gave up a leadoff double to Jimmy Rollins and later bounced a wild pitch in the opposite batter’s box that let him score.

The Mets led 4-2 in the sixth when Juan Pierre opened with a single and scored when Hunter Pence followed with double and took third on left fielder Mike Baxter’s error. But Hefner prevented Pence from scoring the tying run, retiring three straight batters.

Hefner got a nice ovation from the fans, plus pats on the back from his teammates in the dugout when he got Placido Polanco on an inning-ending flyout.

Hefner drew an even bigger cheer when he launched a solo home run in the fourth off Joe Blanton (4-5), the ball sailing high down the left field line. Hefner neatly put down a sacrifice bunt earlier in the game.

In Hefner’s only other big league at-bat, he struck out last week while getting tagged by San Diego in his first start. Hefner did have one previous pro homer, last year for the Padres’ Triple-A team.

Hefner became the first Mets player to earn his first career win and hit his first career home run in the same game, STATS said. The last major leaguer to get his first career victory and also homer for his first hit in the same game was Tony Saunders for the Marlins in 1997, STATS said.

Hefner allowed six hits, walked none and struck out four. Bobby Parnell pitched the seventh, Jon Rauch worked the eighth and Frank Francisco closed for his 14th save in 16 chances.

Blanton gave up six runs and nine hits in five-plus innings after Boston and St. Louis racked him in his prior two starts.

Blanton hit Baxter with a pitch to begin the first and David Wright broke an 0-for-14 slide by lining an RBI single off Rollins’ glove at shortstop. Ike Davis added a single for a 2-1 lead.

Brian Schneider hit a second-deck homer in the Philadelphia second. The Mets got that run back in the bottom half when Quintanilla, promoted from Triple-A Buffalo before the game, doubled off the wall in his first Mets’ at-bat and scored on Baxter’s hustling double.

Hairston batted for Hefner in the sixth and connected for his seventh career pinch-hit home run. The Mets began the game 28th in the majors with only 32 homers.

NOTES: Phillies C Carlos Ruiz did not play for the second straight game because of hamstring trouble. … Hefner became the first Mets pitcher to hit a home run since Johan Santana in 2010. … The Mets put INF Justin Turner on the disabled list with a sprained ankle and cut RHP Manny Acosta. … Quintanilla tied his career high with three hits. … Mets C Josh Thole (concussion) is set to DH in Triple-A Wednesday, catch RHP Chris Young on Thursday and, if all goes well, rejoin the Mets on Friday.

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