BOSTON (AP) -- Jim Leyland knew he had a good team even when it lost its first seven games. So Detroit's manager took the first win in stride.
It was a relief, though, that his powerful lineup finally produced enough to beat the Boston Red Sox 7-2 on Wednesday night after scoring just 15 runs in those seven losses."It's a little crazy to be too giddy if you're 7-1 or 8-1 or too, too down if you're 0-7," Leyland said. "Was I surprised? Yeah, absolutely. I can't deny that. But it happened. There's a lot of games left."And a lot of hitting to be done by a team touted as a top contender after adding Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in the offseason, boosting its payroll to the second highest in the majors.Marcus Thames and Carlos Guillen homered, Renteria had three hits and Ivan Rodriguez got the 2,500th hit of his career while the Tigers drew eight walks and struck out just twice.That ended their worst losing streak to start the season since 2003, when Detroit lost its first nine games and finished at 43-119."It's the beginning of the year and it gets a lot of attention," said Brandon Inge, who singled in two runs in the eighth. "But it's no big deal. We're over it now, I guess."The fact that no team has made the postseason after an 0-7 start means nothing to Leyland."It's a 162-game season. That is a fact," he said. "They give you all this other stuff -- no team's done this, no team's done that -- but you do play 162 games."The Tigers were just 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position and less than two outs this season before teeing off on Jon Lester (1-2) with four runs in the fourth after trailing 2-0."They're good hitters. I had a lot of pitches tonight that I thought were good pitches and they fouled them off," he said. "At times they were very aggressive and at times they were very patient."The Red Sox (4-5) lost their first game in the United States. They opened the season in Tokyo, going 1-1 against Oakland, then beat the Athletics twice in Oakland before going 0-3 at Toronto. They loaded the bases in the ninth Wednesday before Todd Jones retired Kevin Youkilis on a popup for the final out.One day after the Red Sox received their World Series rings in a pregame ceremony then kept Detroit reeling with a 5-0 win, the Tigers came alive after managing just one hit in the first three innings."They were just due to win a game," said Boston first baseman Sean Casey, who spent the last 1 1/2 seasons with the Tigers. "They're too good a team to go 0-162."With one out in the fourth, Lester walked Cabrera and Guillen. Then Renteria tied the game with a two-run double to left. Thames then hit a 3-2 pitch over the Green Monster in left field.Jeremy Bonderman (1-1) had fallen behind 2-0 in the second when the Red Sox loaded the bases on a single by Sean Casey, a walk to J.D. Drew and an error by second baseman Placido Polanco on Jason Varitek's grounder. Jacoby Ellsbury then walked, forcing in a run, and Julio Lugo singled in another.It was the second error in two days for Polanco, whose last error had come on July 1, 2006. Tuesday's throwing error ended his major league-record errorless streak for second basemen at 911 chances and 186 games.Casey singled as a pinch hitter for Mike Lowell, who sprained his left thumb in the first when he fielded Rodriguez's leadoff grounder and threw him out. X-rays were negative and manager Terry Francona said he would be checked Thursday.In the eighth, Rodriguez became the 87th player with 2,500 hits when he broke an 0-for-15 slump with a single."There's still a lot of baseball left for me," he said. "2,500 hits is remarkable and I'm very happy for that."Earlier in the eighth, Inge singled in two runs before Guillen hit his second homer of the year in the ninth."It's hard to win major league games. We found that out the last week or so," Leyland said. "We finally got some timely hits. That's more like us."
The longest winless streak at the start of a season by a team that went on to make the postseason was six games by the 1974 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1995 Cincinnati Reds. ... Inge, the Tigers' ninth batter, has six of their 20 RBIs. ... Boston RHP Mike Timlin pitched one perfect inning against Lehigh Valley in his second rehab appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday night. He is recovering from a cut on his right ring finger. ... LHP Casey Fossum, once with the Red Sox, agreed to a Triple-A contract with the Tigers. ... Manny Ramirez has reached based in all nine games.