By Jimmy Golen
BOSTON: David Ortiz revived the Red Sox with a tying grand slam in the eighth inning, then Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a winning single in the ninth that sent Boston past the Detroit Tigers 6-5 Sunday night to even the American League Championship Series at 1-all.
The Tigers were cruising to their second consecutive win at Fenway Park, with starter Max Scherzer taking a no-hitter and a 5-0 lead into the sixth inning.
But with one swing, Big Papi changed everything. Ortiz hit a two-out shot that sent right fielder Torii Hunter jack-knifing into the Boston bullpen in a futile attempt to catch the ball, making it 5-up.
Saltalamacchia’s single came after a series of Tigers misplays in the ninth. A wild throw, a wild pitch and a missed catch by first baseman Prince Fielder on a foul ball set up the game-ending hit.
The teams head to Detroit for Game 3 on Tuesday. Justin Verlander will face Boston’s John Lackey.
A day after Anibal Sanchez and the Detroit staff combined on a one-hitter for a 1-0 win, Scherzer excelled. He fanned 13 while allowing two hits in seven innings, and was pulled after 108 pitches.
“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.”
Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila homered off Clay Buchholz in Detroit’s four-run sixth inning.
Boston scored once in the bottom of the sixth and then loaded the bases against three relievers in the eighth before closer Joaquin Benoit came in to face Ortiz.
On his first pitch, Ortiz hit a line drive into the glove of the Red Sox bullpen catcher, with Hunter flopping headfirst over the chest-high wall in pursuit.
The fans waited until the trainers verified that Hunter was OK to start chanting, “Papi!” and call the Red Sox slugger out of the dugout for a curtain call.
It was the first career postseason grand slam for Ortiz, a star of the 2004 playoff run that ended in Boston’s first World Series title in 86 years.
Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth for the win.