BOSTON - One night after nearly preserving a no-hitter, the Detroit bullpen was far from flawless.
Max Scherzer took another no-hit bid for the Tigers past the fifth inning and left with a four-run lead before the Red Sox rallied behind David Ortiz's grand slam for a 6-5 win Sunday night that evened the AL championship series at 1-all.
"It's playoff baseball," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Looked like we had one in hand and we let one slip away."
Scherzer struck out 13, allowing one run on two hits and leaving with Detroit up 5-1 after seven. The Tigers appeared headed for a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
But the same four relievers who finished off a one-hit, 1-0 win in the opener after Anibal Sanchez pitched six hitless innings failed to protect Scherzer's gem Sunday.
Jose Veras, Drew Smyly, Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit gave the lead back this time.
And now the series shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Tuesday, with the Tigers' Justin Verlander set to face Boston's John Lackey.
"We came away with the split. You've got to see the glass half-full," Scherzer said. "We're going to be playing these guys at home in front of our fans and it's up to us to choose if we're going to come out and compete. I think we will. I don't think this is going to deter our effort."
The Red Sox loaded the bases against Veras, Smyly and Alburquerque with two outs in the eighth. Then Ortiz hit the first pitch from Benoit, who earned the save in Game 1, into the Boston bullpen — with Torii Hunter flipping over the wall in right field trying to make a desperate catch.
"I like to attack hitters. It's not the first time that he's beat me," Benoit said. "He's had success and I've had success. Tonight was his night."
Rick Porcello gave up a leadoff infield single to Jonny Gomes in the ninth that left Gomes at second when shortstop Jose Iglesias threw the ball into the Boston dugout. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a foul popup that glanced off first baseman Prince Fielder's glove when he got tangled up with a fan.
Gomes moved to third on a wild pitch, and then Saltalamacchia hit one through the drawn-in infield to drive in the game-winner.
"We're not going to make excuses in that situation. I threw the wild pitch. Nobody else threw that and put him on third," Porcello said. "From there, it's just making pitches and keep the ball on the ground. Hopefully he hits it at somebody or we get a strike out. I fell behind Salty and the result was base hit. That's how it goes."
Scherzer, who led the majors with 21 wins, did not allow a hit until Shane Victorino singled to left with two outs in the sixth. Pedroia followed with an RBI double.
It was an unprecedented third consecutive playoff game in which a Tigers starter took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. That had never been done even twice in a row before this year's Detroit staff, which boasts the AL ERA leader, the major league leader in wins and the 2011 AL Cy Young winner and MVP.
"Scherzer was terrific. He was spent," Leyland said. "Last night our bullpen was flawless, and tonight it just wasn't quite as good."
Scherzer pitched the seventh and left after throwing 108 pitches. He said his arm was tiring and he knew that would be his final inning.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second and broke it open with four runs in the top of the sixth. Miguel Cabrera hit a solo homer off Clay Buchholz and Alex Avila hit a two-run shot that gave Scherzer a 5-0 lead.
NOTES: Scherzer lost 2-1 at Fenway Park on Sept. 9 when going for his 20th win. ... Dave Roberts, whose stolen base sparked Boston's comeback in the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Ortiz's 63rd post-season game tied Jason Varitek for the Red Sox franchise record. ... Buchholz had a 1.20 ERA against the Tigers in four career starts at Fenway Park. ... Victorino's nine career hit by pitches in the post-season tie him with Alex Rodriguez for the major league record.
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