Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (57). Photo by Shelley Lipton/UPI | License Photo
BOSTON -- There's no such thing as a comfortable save situation, but Francisco Rodriguez's presence on the mound can certainly take the pressure off.
Rodriguez navigated a couple of tough assignments with ease over the past two days, recording a four-out save Monday before securing another slim lead in the Detroit Tigers 9-8 win over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.
"There's never a comfortable spot when you're a closer, but he's as savvy a pitcher and has one of the better changeups I've ever come across," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Rodriguez faced the same trio of hitters -- Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz -- with the game hanging in the balance Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday, Rodriguez set down the hard-hitting Red Sox 1-2-3 in the ninth after forcing Mookie Betts into a two-out, bases-loaded groundout in the eighth.
A day later, he retired Pedroia but allowed the tying run to reach on Bogaerts' single.
In the next at-bat, he forced Ortiz to ground into a game-ending double play.
"I'm very comfortable with him in a save situation," Ausmus said of Rodriguez, who has converted 29 of 30 save situations this year and has a 2.63 ERA.
Tuesday's decisive run was scored when Tyler Collins walked with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to force in the winning run.
Collins worked a two-out, full-count walk from Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr. (1-2), allowing Justin Upton to trot home from third.
"I guess with all the offense, really from both sides, it's a little ironic that a walk was the difference," Ausmus said.
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run shot for his 20th homer of the season, and former Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a two-run single and three hits for Detroit (53-48), which won for the fourth time in six games.
Cabrera, a two-time American League MVP, now has eight seasons of 20 or more homers with Detroit -- third in club history behind Norm Cash (11) and Al Kaline (nine).
It was also Cabrera's 428th career homer, breaking a tie with recent Hall of Fame inductee Mike Piazza for 48th on MLB's all-time home runs list.
Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey pitched five innings, allowing five runs on six hits and two walks with a strikeout.
Alex Wilson (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless two-thirds of an inning. Francisco Rodriguez set down the Red Sox in the ninth to record his 29th save.
David Ortiz clubbed a three-run homer, his 25th of the year, and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a solo shot for his 16th for Boston (55-43), which is 1-4 in its past five games.
The 40-year-old Ortiz has topped the 25-homer plateau in 12 of his 14 seasons with the Red Sox.
Dustin Pedroia had a hit to extend his on-base streak to 29 games, tied for the longest active streak in the majors with Washington's Jayson Werth.
Red Sox starter Steven Wright gave up a season-worst eight earned runs on nine hits and three walks with two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
"I feel like our guys kept battling back," Wright said. "For me to dig us another hole to get out of is tough. It's tough to keep asking the offense to keep carrying us like that."
The knuckleballer hadn't allowed more than five earned (twice) in a game this season and entered the evening with an AL-leading 2.67 ERA, which ballooned to 3.12.
Bradley's solo blast over the bullpens in right field on an 0-1 pitch in the sixth brought Boston within 8-6 after the Red Sox blew a one-run lead they held through four innings.
Pedroia trimmed the deficit to one with his RBI single later in the inning, and Bogaerts tied the game with a run-scoring groundout.
NOTES: Boston C Ryan Hanigan (flu-like symptoms) was a late scratch. Sandy Leon started and caught knuckleballing RHP Steven Wright. ... Detroit CF Cameron Maybin (back) missed his third consecutive game. One of Maybin's rib heads popped out and was put back in place. ... Red Sox OF Chris Young (right hamstring strain) will "hopefully" be close to starting a rehab assignment when the team returns from its West Coast trip, manager John Farrell said. ... Tigers RF J.D. Martinez (fractured right elbow) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo. Martinez will DH for two games and might play in the outfield Friday, manager Brad Ausmus said. ... Detroit LHP Daniel Norris (oblique) had his rehab assignment transferred to Double-A Erie, and he will start Thursday. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (neck) will make his next rehab start Friday with Toledo. ... Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer (9-2, 2.41 ERA) counters Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.70 ERA) in Wednesday's series finale.