Red Sox 'pen blows it as Tigers cap sweep with walk-off win in 11th

DETROIT -- Alex Avila's drive sailed to deep right field, barely clearing both an outfielder and a wall.

An exhilarating opening series at Comerica Park was finally over, and the Detroit catcher could look forward to some much-needed rest.

"I'm too tired right now," Avila said. "I'm glad we have an off day (Monday). This weekend has been crazy."

Avila's two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning gave the Tigers a stunning 13-12 victory over Boston on Sunday, leaving the Red Sox winless in three games under new manager Bobby Valentine.

Detroit swept the season-opening series, scoring 26 runs and winning twice in its final at-bat.

The Tigers trailed 10-7 on Sunday when Miguel Cabrera tied the game with a three-run shot off Alfredo Aceves in the ninth. Boston then scored twice in the 11th, but Mark Melancon (0-2) couldn't hold the lead.

Cabrera and Prince Fielder singled with one out before a wild pitch sent Cabrera to third and Delmon Young's sacrifice fly cut the margin in half. Avila followed with a drive to right and Cody Ross tried to make a leaping catch, but the ball appeared to hit a restraining gate just above the wall before caroming back onto the field.

Avila paused near second, then was waved around the bases by the umpires. The play was not reviewed. Valentine said he asked and was assured by umpires that the ball had clearly hit the railing above the fence.

"You don't see those kinds of games at this level very often," Avila said. "There's really no rhyme or reason or explanation for it."

It's certainly rare for the Red Sox: They lost for the first time when scoring 12 runs or more since a 22-13 loss to the Chicago White Sox on May 31, 1970, according to STATS LLC.

Duane Below (2-0) got one out for the win -- even though Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he wouldn't be available -- in a game that lasted 4 hours, 45 minutes. Cabrera had five RBIs.

The Red Sox and New York Yankees are both off to 0-3 starts -- the first time that's happened since 1966, according to STATS LLC.

Boston is without newly acquired closer Andrew Bailey, who had surgery on his right thumb. Melancon and Aceves are the primary candidates to close in Bailey's absence, and both blew saves on Sunday.

"This is a work in progress," Valentine said. "We're three days in after losing our closer, and we're still trying to figure it out."

Through three games, Aceves and Melancon have a combined ERA of 63.00, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Nick Punto and Dustin Pedroia hit RBI singles in the 11th to give Boston the lead, but it didn't hold up. Adrian Gonzalez homered earlier for the Red Sox.

"Our guys played a hell of a game," Valentine said. "We had a walk-off loss on Opening Day, then got beat 10-0 and were down 4-0 in the first inning today -- but we fought back and took them 11 innings."

Detroit beat the Red Sox 3-2 in Thursday's opener on a ninth-inning hit by Austin Jackson, then cruised to a blowout Saturday. The Tigers seemed on their way to another easy win when Jhonny Peralta's three-run double in the first inning gave them a 4-0 lead, but starter Max Scherzer couldn't hold it.

Scherzer allowed seven runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings, but Boston's Clay Buchholz wasn't much better. He allowed seven runs on eight hits in four innings in what was his first start since June because of a stress fracture in his back.

Buchholz had gone 42 consecutive starts since the beginning of 2010 without allowing more than five earned runs.

While the Red Sox are three games into a new season, their starting pitchers' downward trend from the start of last fall's stretch drive collapse has continued. In 29 games from Sept. 2, when Boston's collapse began, Red Sox starting pitchers are 4-14 with a 7.45 ERA and only five quality starts, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

In three games this season, Jon Lester has Boston's lone quality start, in which he went seven innings and allowed one run in a no-decision. Buchholz and Josh Beckett, who gave up seven runs in seven innings on Saturday, didn't meet the quality start threshold of at least six innings pitched with three runs or fewer allowed.

Detroit reliever Daniel Schlereth allowed a two-run homer to Gonzalez on the first pitch he threw after coming on in the sixth. That gave Boston a 9-7 lead, and Vicente Padilla pitched four scoreless innings of relief for the Red Sox after replacing Buchholz.

The 34-year-old Padilla kept the powerful Detroit lineup off balance, at one point lobbing consecutive pitches of 54 and 52 mph on the stadium gun to Fielder in the seventh.

Punto made it 10-7 with an RBI infield single in the ninth, but Jackson and Brennan Boesch led off the bottom of the inning with singles, and Cabrera tied it.

"We've got to get this straight: It's not about Prince and me," Cabrera said. "We've got 25 guys, it's about the Detroit Tigers, it's about everybody here. We feel comfortable about everybody here so let's play ball and play hard."

Game notes
The Tigers placed RHP Doug Fister (strained left side) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled RHP Brayan Villarreal from Triple-A Toledo, moves they announced after Saturday's game. ... Valentine went out onto the field after Gonzalez was hit by a pitch from Phil Coke in the eighth. The umpires then warned both benches, which appeared to annoy the Boston manager even more.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.