Ortiz's dramatic homer sets up Red Sox for series-tying victory
BOSTON — Giving up the hit that cost his team a no-hitter was, as Joaquin Benoit and the rest of the Detroit Tigers were quick to point out, not such a big deal.
The one hit Benoit allowed Sunday was far more dramatic. The eighth-inning grand slam he allowed to David Ortiz cost his team a victory, changed the face of the ALCS and likely saved the Boston Red Sox's season.
The winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 6-5 victory, which ties the series 1-1, was almost anti-climatic given the desperate straits the Red Sox were in.
Jonny Gomes scored the decisive run on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's RBI single only after everything else that could go wrong for the Tigers did.
Gomes's bouncer between shortstop and third base was an infield hit, but he also advanced to second when shortstop Jose Iglesias — traded from Boston to Detroit earlier this season — threw wide of first.
With Saltalamacchia batting, first baseman Prince Fielder wasn't able to catch his pop foul against the front of the stands behind first base.
With Saltalamacchia still batting, Rick Porcello threw a wild pitch that advanced Gomes to third, forced the infield to play in and enabled Saltalamacchia's single.
Held to one hit for the first 14 innings of the series, the Red Sox erupted once they got another dominant Tigers starter — this time Max Scherzer — out of the game.
Benoit was the third reliever used in the eighth inning. Entering after Boston loaded the bases on a double by Will Middlebrooks, a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury and a single by Dustin Pedroia, he needed all of one pitch to learn what so many Red Sox opponents have learned before about Ortiz, especially in the postseason.
Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter somersaulted over the wall in a vain attempt to maintain the lead and what appeared to be a vice-grip on the series.