DETROIT — Max Scherzer, fortified by Victor Martinez’s first-inning grand slam, improved to a club-record-tying 11-0 and equaled the best start by a pitcher in the majors since 1997 by going seven innings Saturday night in the Detroit Tigers’ 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
Scherzer equaled George Mullins’ 11-0 start to the 1909 season for the best beginning to a season by a Detroit pitcher and also matched the best start to a season since Roger Clemens of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997.
He gave up two runs to Boston on three hits in the first inning then allowed just three more hits over the next six before turning the game over to Al Alburquerque.
Scherzer didn’t walk a batter and fanned six. He has struck out at least a half-dozen batters in each of 15 starts this season.
The only other pitcher in American League history to whiff at least six in each of his first 15 starts was Pedro Martinez, who did it with Boston in 1999 and then nearly doubled it the next year with six or more strikeouts in each of his first 29 starts.
Six runs scored in the first inning, with Boston first jumping out to a 2-0 lead on Scherzer.
Singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino plus a double-play grounder gave the Red Sox a 1-0 edge, and David Ortiz followed with his 16th home run.
The Tigers bounced back, with Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter getting singles and Miguel Cabrera walking on four pitches to load the bases. Martinez then unloaded on a 0-1 fastball for his sixth home run this season and third grand slam of his career.
Victorino continued his running battle with Cabrera. The Detroit slugger lined a single to right and the Boston right fielder came up throwing, missing getting Cabrera out by a step.
The two traded grins and barbs for the next few moments, as they had when Cabrera singled sharply to right in the seventh inning Friday night and Victorino narrowly missed throwing him out at first.
Andy Dirks singled and stole second in the fourth, scoring on Jackson’s two-out line single to center.
Lefty Franklin Morales took over for called-up starter Allen Webster after the first out of the fifth and walked lefty-hitting Prince Fielder, then gave up an RBI double to Victor Martinez. Jhonny Peralta singled Martinez home to increase Detroit’s lead to 7-2.
Omar Infante made it 9-2 in the seventh by hitting his fifth home run, which came two outs after Martinez walked. Martinez had five RBI in the game.
The first two Red Sox to bat in the eighth reached base on a walk and a single, but Alburquerque retired the next three.
Fielder grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth to improve the Tigers’ lead to 10-2.
Luke Putkonen worked the ninth for Detroit, allowing three hits, including an RBI single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
NOTES: Ortiz’s first-inning home run was his second homer of the series and 18th of his career in Comerica Park, most of any opponent on Detroit’s home field. … RHP Jonathon Crawford, Detroit’s No. 1 draft choice, made his pro debut Friday night. He pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three, for short-season Connecticut of the New York-Penn League. … Boston optioned RHP Pedro Beato to Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night to make room for Webster, called up to pitch Saturday. Beato pitched in two games for Boston, allowing two hits but no runs in two innings. … Tigers C Alex Avila is scheduled to join Triple-A Toledo on Sunday to begin a rehab assignment. Avila has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a deep bruise just above his left wrist. … RHP Clay Buchholz of Boston will miss his scheduled return to the rotation Tuesday after missing a bullpen session Saturday. “Tuesday is very unlikely, as of right now,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s not going Tuesday. At some point he’s probably going to have to get out on a rehab.” Buchholz has been disabled since June 9 with a neck strain. “It’s on his deceleration, his follow-through, that’s when he feels restriction,” Farrell said. Buchholz will get more treatment until Monday. … Jackson returned to Detroit’s starting lineup Saturday night after missing a game with soreness in his left hamstring. “I hope it’s not something that lingers,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I’ll play it accordingly.”