BOSTON — Limited to one hit through the first 1 1/2 games of the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox rediscovered their offense in time to even the series in dramatic fashion.
David Ortiz hit a game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning Sunday, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled home the winning run in the ninth as the Red Sox walked off with a 6-5 win over the Detroit Tigers.
The series, tied at one game apiece, heads to Detroit for the next three games with Game 3 set for a 4 p.m. Tuesday start.
“We’re going to play it to the final out,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “David so many times has come up big, whether it’s regular season, postseason, none bigger than tonight.”
In the ninth, Jonny Gomes reached on a single off Rick Porcello, and he moved to second on a throwing error by Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias — who entered as a defensive replacement. A wild pitch sent Gomes to third, and Saltalamacchia grounded a base hit to left to cap Boston’s improbable comeback.
The Tigers led 5-1 with two outs in the eighth before Ortiz belted the first pitch closer Joaquin Benoit threw in the game, driving it into the Boston bullpen as Torii Hunter tumbled over the right field fence. Will Middlebrooks, who doubled off Jose Veras; Jacoby Ellsbury, who drew a walk from Drew Smyly; and Dustin Pedroia, who singled off Al Alburquerque to load the bases, all scored ahead of Ortiz.
“(Benoit) has good stuff,” Ortiz said. “I pretty much tell all the guys, especially the young hitters, you can’t go to the plate trying to hit everything. That’s what we’ve been trying to do the last couple of days, plus their pitching being outstanding.”
The Tigers wasted a gem from starter Max Scherzer, who had a no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings before a Shane Victorino single. Scherzer struck out 13 in seven innings, giving up one run on two hits, two walks and a hit batter.
“It’s playoff baseball,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Looked like we had one in hand and we let one get away. There’s no question about that. But there have been two great games, no question about it. Scherzer was terrific. He was spent. (In Game 1), our bullpen was flawless, and tonight it just wasn’t quite as good.”
Boston was held hitless through 8 1/3 innings in Game 1.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz went 5 2/3 innings Sunday, giving up five runs on eight hits and no walks with six strikeouts.
Through five innings, Game 2 resembled Game 1, which ended in a 1-0 Detroit victory.
Scherzer picked up where Tigers pitchers left off in the opener, and Red Sox batters remained befuddled. The Detroit right-hander recorded nine strikeouts in five hitless innings as the Tigers led 1-0.
In the first 14 innings of the ALCS, Tigers pitchers recorded 26 strikeouts and allowed one hit against the Red Sox, who possessed one of baseball’s most prolific offenses in the regular season.
The Tigers jumped on top in the second inning on Alex Avila’s RBI single. Victor Martinez doubled, when to third on Jhonny Peralta’s single and scored on Avila’s hit to center.
Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera hit a solo homer in the sixth, and Martinez added an RBI double to increase the lead to 3-0.
Avila’s two-run homer in the sixth gave Detroit a five-run lead before Boston recorded a hit.
The Red Sox finally broke through for a run in the bottom of the sixth. Following Victorino’s two-out single, Pedroia hit an RBI double off the Green Monster in left.
NOTES: Boston manager John Farrell altered his lineup for Game 2. Mike Carp replaced Mike Napoli at first base, batting fifth. Gomes was in left field with Daniel Nava — the only Red Sox batter who had a hit in Game 1 — on the bench. Saltalamacchia was behind the plate with David Ross on the bench. … After starting at shortstop in Game 1, Iglesias was not in the Tigers’ lineup for Game 2. Manager Jim Leyland opted to go with Peralta at short and Don Kelly in left field. … Ortiz has played in all 63 Red Sox postseason games since 2003, tying Jason Varitek’s club record for postseason appearances. … Tigers RHP Anibal Sanchez’s 12 strikeouts in six hitless innings in Game 1 marked the most K’s by a pitcher before he allowed a hit in a postseason game in major league history. The previous record belonged to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax, who struck out 10 Yankees before Elston Howard connected for New York’s first hit in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series, a two-out single in the fifth inning.