Red Sox 2, Tigers 1
"We'll take seven," Boston manager Terry Francona said of his fifth starter. "And the way he did it, a couple of times he pitched himself into a bind by getting ahead of the hitter and walking guys. It's so nice to see him be able to dial up a pitch."
Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis drove in runs for the AL East leaders, who won for the eighth time in 10 games. With his 1,541th RBI, Ramirez moved past Willie Stargell into sole possession of 38th place.
Boston needed Tavarez to pitch deep into the game to save its bullpen, which will be tested this weekend. Josh Beckett (7-0) is going to miss his start Friday with a torn piece of skin on his middle finger, and the Red Sox haven't announced a starter yet.
"For me this is my 12th full season in the major leagues and I appreciate it day after day," Tavarez said. "[Francona] gave me a good opportunity to be a starter and I just enjoy every one. I don't know if it's going to be forever, but if it's not, I'm going to enjoy it in the bullpen or doing whatever it is."
Tavarez (2-4), who lost three of his previous four starts, allowed one run, four singles and four walks in seven innings, lowering his ERA from a team-high 6.60 to 5.59. He sprinted off the mound to a loud ovation after striking out his final batter, Curtis Granderson, swinging.
Okajima pitched a perfect eighth, extending his scoreless streak to 18 2/3 innings, and Papelbon finished the four-hitter for his 11th save in 12 chances.
"It's so nice to get to the eighth and feel like regardless of what the score is you're going to win," Francona said.
The Tigers, who homered twice in a 7-2 win over Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox Tuesday, didn't have a baserunner after leaving them loaded them in the fifth.
"He kept his sinker down and threw the ball over," Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez said of Tavarez. "He got into a couple of jams and got the job done."
Detroit's scheduled starter, Mike Maroth, was scratched Thursday morning because he became ill and was replaced by Miner, who was recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
"I woke up at 4:15 and almost missed my flight," Miner said. "They told me I was coming up to pitch out of the 'pen. When I got here, they told me I was going to start."
Placido Polanco had a fifth-inning RBI single for the defending AL champions, who lost for only the fourth time in 16 games.
Miner (0-1) gave up two runs -- one earned -- and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
In the makeup of Wednesday night's rainout, Boston benefited from good baserunning and possibly a missed call by second-base umpire Rob Drake in going ahead in the first.
Coco Crisp singled with one out and avoided shortstop Carlos Guillen's tag on David Ortiz's grounder to the right of second. Guillen, playing a shifted position with Ortiz batting, reached for Crisp, who fell to the ground and rolled onto the grass -- appearing to be out of the baseline. Crisp got up, went to second and moved on to third, which was uncovered; Ramirez singled him home.
Youkilis singled in a run in the third after Julio Lugo reached when Guillen booted his grounder for an error.
Youkilis' first-inning single extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games. ... The Tigers were held without an extra-base hit for the first time in 27 games. ... Chad Durbin (3-1) was to face Curt Schilling (4-1) in the second game. ... Boston manager Terry Francona said right fielder J.D. Drew, who bruised his lower back crashing into a wall attempting to catch a Brandon Inge's homer Tuesday, might play in the second game. He also said after the game that Wily Mo Pena would start the night game in left, Ramirez would be the DH and Ortiz, who came to the park not feeling well, would sit out.