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(Thursday, April 5th)
Final Score: Detroit 3, Boston 2
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Austin Jackson's game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Detroit Tigers past the Boston Red Sox, 3-2, in the season opener for both teams Thursday.
Reigning AL MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, who went 24-5 last season, allowed just two hits and fanned seven in eight scoreless innings.
Jose Valverde (1-0), who went a perfect 49-for-49 save opportunities a year ago, blew his first of 2012 as Boston scored twice in the ninth to tie the game.
Prince Fielder, the powerful first baseman who signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers in January, went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.
"I didn't feel pressure... I felt excited to play baseball," Fielder said of his Tigers debut.
Making his first start at third base since 2008, Miguel Cabrera walked three times, but committed an error on the first fair ball hit his way.
Jackson finished 3-for-5, Jhonny Peralta was 3-for-3 with a run scored and Alex Avila was 2-for-4 with a run batted in for Detroit, which won the AL Central title last season for the first time since joining the division.
"It felt good to get back out there and we accomplished the goal today, to get a win," Jackson said.
The Red Sox are starting a new era under Bobby Valentine, who made his first MLB managerial appearance since 2002. He replaced Terry Francona after a 7-20 September, which saw Boston blow a nine-game lead in the wild card standings.
Jon Lester went toe-to-toe with Verlander and tossed seven innings of one-run ball.
"Verlander threw great, Lester threw outstanding. They got a couple runs when they needed. We left a couple guys on," Boston left fielder Cody Ross said.
Ryan Sweeney tied the game in the top of the ninth with an RBI triple for Boston, while Mark Melancon (0-1) started the ninth and was pulled after giving up consecutive one-out singles.
The Tigers broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of two-out doubles.
Peralta lined one down the left-field line to reach second, and Avila brought him home with a slicing double down the left-field line.
Detroit added an insurance run in the eighth as Jackson led off the frame with a triple, and then scored on Fielder's sac fly to centerfield.
Valverde, though, couldn't hold down the fort in the ninth.
Dustin Pedroia opened the inning with a double to right-center field, and Adrian Gonzalez followed with a single to move Pedroia to third. David Ortiz then plated Pedroia with a sac fly.
After Kevin Youkilis struck out, Darnell McDonald -- who came on to pinch run for Gonzalez -- stole second and Sweeney smoked a triple off the right-field wall to tie the game.
Ryan Raburn flew out to start the bottom of the ninth, but back-to-back singles by Peralta and Avila chased Melancon out of the game.
Alfredo Aceves, who was named the interim closer until Andrew Bailey returns from a thumb injury, came on and hit Ramon Santiago with a curveball to load the bases. Jackson came up next and slapped a groundball past a diving Youkilis for the game-winning hit.
Cabrera committed five errors in 14 games at third base in 2008...Lester became the first Boston left-hander to start back-to-back opening days since Mel Parnell from 1952-54.
04/05 18:07:27 ET
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