DETROIT -- Expectations and reality finally caught up to speedy Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Boston center fielder had a career day Sunday with five RBIs on a three-run triple, a solo home run and a bases-loaded walk to lead the Red Sox to a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Bradley was hitting just .121 when the game began.
Rookie southpaw Henry Owens (1-1) and four other Boston pitchers cobbled together a four-hitter to let the Red Sox hitters jump on a Tigers bullpen, whose ERA jumped to 4.31.
"That was a flash of what Jackie Bradley is capable of doing," Boston manager John Farrell said. "His defense is capable of being a carrying tool for him.
"He's hit as an amateur and at the lower levels. He's been a good offensive player there, a contributor. It's taken some time for that to carry over to the upper level."
Detroit manager Brad Ausmus has his own problems, especially with starters not being able to get beyond six innings consistently and a bullpen that is thin plus under-talented.
Justin Verlander (1-5) was unable to pitch over a two-out error by second baseman Ian Kinsler that prolonged the second inning. An infield single loaded the bases and then Bradley Jr. drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch for force in the game's first run.
Third baseman Brock Holt made it 2-0 with an infield single to second.
Bradley worked the count to 3-2 leading off the seventh against lefty Tom Gorzelanny, back from a stint in the minors to work on a lower arm slot. But the left-vs.-lefty matchup didn't work as Gorzelanny threw a fastball in the heart of the strike zone that Bradley Jr. laced into the right field seats for a 3-1 Boston lead.
He came up in the seventh after Detroit walked second baseman Josh Rutledge intentionally to load the bases, worked the count full again and ripped a too-fat fastball into the right field corner for a three-run triple and a 6-2 lead. Bradley Jr. scored on a single by Holt.
"The No. 9 hitter is not generally the hitter in the lineup you're concerned about," Ausmus said. "But you've still got to get him out.
"Somebody's got to perform. We've got to get outs. You're trying to put guys in a position where they can get outs. We didn't do the job. We've got to get outs there.
"The one concern is that you don't want to load the bases sometimes because you're concerned about the walk."
Bradley Jr. also made an excellent back-to-the-plate catch on a drive to deepest center field in the fourth hit by Tigers first baseman Jefry Marte that helped Owens gain his first major league win.
"That was a Willie Mays catch," Owens said. "I knew he had it. As soon as I saw his back I started walking off the mound. We've played in Triple-A together so I've seen that a lot. It was a routine catch."
"That was a pretty good catch," Bradley Jr. said. "Owens told me in the dugout, 'As soon as I saw your back I was headed for the dugout.'"
Owens allowed three hits while throwing 84 pitches in his five-inning outing. He was relieved after Kinsler led off the sixth with a ground-rule double to left. Owens, in his second big league start, walked four and struck out two and a wild pitch led to his only run allowed.
Detroit center fielder Rajai Davis led off the third with a walk, stole second and continued to third on a wild pitch to Kinsler. Detroit was unable to get him in until designated hitter Victor Martinez lined a two-out single to center.
Right-hander Justin Masterson finished the fifth but was removed after giving up a leadoff home run in the seventh to the rookie Marte, whose third home run closed the Tigers' gap to 3-2. Masterson was designated for assignment following the game.
Left-handed Robbie Ross Jr. finished the seventh, right-hander Junichi Tazawa pitched the eighth and right-hander Jean Machi closed out the Red Sox victory.
NOTES: Detroit swapped pitchers with its Triple-A Toledo team following Saturday night's game, optioning RHP Shane Greene to the Mud Hens and purchasing the contract of LHP Tom Gorzellany. ... Boston manager John Farrell said Sunday his Shore Regional high school team in Monmouth Beach, N.J., played 21 games his senior season -- and he pitched 18 of them. He was 20-6 as a junior. "Pitch counts? I stopped pitching when the game ended," he said. ... 1B Miguel Cabrera (left calf) "will run the bases Tuesday in Kansas City," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's going to take batting practice off live pitching, too." ... Red Sox LF Hanley Ramirez (left foot) was unable to play Sunday, Farrell said. "Koji (RHP Uehara) is going to have a CAT scan on his wrist. The swelling is down again but we want to make sure. I would expect them to be ready Tuesday in Miami."