DETROIT (AP) — JaCoby Jones capped a wild eighth inning with a bases-loaded walk, and the Detroit Tigers outlasted the flu-bitten Boston Red Sox 6-5 on Friday to win their ninth straight home opener.
Red Sox stars Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts were ill and out of the lineup. Boston also was without shortstop Xander Bogaerts and reliever Matt Barnes, who are on the bereavement list.
The Tigers blew a 4-0 lead in the top of the eighth, when Pablo Sandoval gave the Red Sox the lead with a three-run homer off Francisco Rodriguez. But what the Detroit bullpen had squandered, the Boston relievers quickly gave back.
Heath Hembree (0-1) walked two batters, and pinch-hitter Mikie Mahtook followed with a tying double off Robby Scott. Joe Kelly then allowed consecutive walks to James McCann and Jones, forcing in the final run.
The Red Sox put runners on second and third in the ninth against Rodriguez (1-0), but Chris Young popped out to end it.
Detroit led 4-0 in the eighth when relievers Bruce Rondon and Alex Wilson were able to get only one out apiece. With the score 4-2, Rodriguez came on to face Sandoval with two outs and runners on first and third. The Boston slugger, who played in just three games last year before having shoulder surgery, hit a drive to left-center field on an 0-2 pitch for his first home run since Aug. 15, 2015.
The lead didn’t last.
After Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera struck out to start the Detroit eighth, the Red Sox allowed four walks and a double.
Before the bullpens got involved, Detroit’s Michael Fulmer pitched six scoreless innings. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year allowed four hits and two walks, striking out four.
Victor Martinez drove in the game’s first two runs with a sacrifice fly and single, and a two-run homer by McCann made it 4-0 in the seventh.
Young hit an RBI double and Jackie Bradley Jr. added a run-scoring single for Boston in the eighth before Sandoval’s big swing.
Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The Tigers played a video tribute before the game honoring owner Mike Ilitch, who died shortly before the start of spring training. A large “Mr. I” was cut into the grass in center field and also appeared in a circle to the left of home plate and on a flag beyond the wall in left-center.
Red Sox: Betts and Brock Holt both sat out Wednesday’s win over Pittsburgh because of illness. Holt was in the starting lineup Friday as the designated hitter and went 1 for 2 with a walk before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Tigers: Detroit is without RF J.D. Martinez, who is recovering from a sprained right foot. Tyler Collins, who started Friday in right, misjudged a flyball in the seventh for an error — but he also had two hits.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez takes the mound against Detroit on Saturday. Rodriguez posted a 3.24 ERA after the All-Star break last season.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann starts for the Tigers. He went 9-7 with a 4.87 ERA last year, when he was bothered by neck issues.