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 as Boston stunned the Detroit Tigers 6-5 Sunday night to even the AL Championship Series at 1-all.
The Tigers seemingly were cruising toward their second straight victory 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 flipped everything. Ortiz hit a two-out shot that sent right fielder Torii Hunter jackknifing into the Boston bullpen in a futile attempt to catch the ball, making the score 5-5.
“I knew I put a good swing on it,” Ortiz said.
Saltalamacchia’s single came after a series of Detroit 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 of the best-of-seven ALCS 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 victory, 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.
Fans waited until trainers verified Hunter was OK to start chanting, “Papi!” and coax 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 with Boston’s first World Series title in 86 years.
“He’s an amazing postseason hitter,” Scherzer said. “He’s clutch. Any given moment, a swing of the bat, he can always take you deep.”
Koji Uehara pitched a perfect ninth for the victory. Rick Porcello took the loss.
Jonny Gomes led off the bottom half against Porcello with a grounder to the left of shortstop Jose Iglesias, a defensive replacement. The former Red Sox prospect fielded it but rushed the throw and it bounced past Fielder and into the Boston dugout as Gomes slid headfirst into the bag with an infield hit.
With Gomes on second because of the error, Saltalamacchia hit a high pop-up near the rolled-up tarp that bounced off Fielder’s glove.
A fan reached up trying to catch the foul. Fielder looked as if he wanted an interference call — replays showed he simply let the ball glance off his glove.
Gomes took third on Porcello’s wild pitch and Saltalamacchia hit a sharp grounder through the left side of the drawn-in infield to set off a celebration on the Fenway infield.
Scherzer, who led the majors with 21 victories, did not allow a hit until Shane Victorino singled to left with two outs in the sixth.
It was an unprecedented third straight playoff game in which a Tigers starter took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. That had never been done even twice consecutively before this year’s Detroit staff accomplished the feat.