DETROIT -- The Boston Red Sox finally got the big hit they needed on Sunday night.
The win snapped the Red Sox's five-game losing streak and averted a series and season sweep at the hands of the Tigers, who won the first five games between the teams this season.
“We needed a win,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We had so many opportunities that we couldn't capitalize on, then David Ortiz gets the three-run homer in the ninth.”
The Red Sox loaded the bases with one out in the third against Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez, but got only one run out of it. That came on Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly, which gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Ortiz ended the inning by striking out on a 3-2 pitch.
Boston had a chance to break a 2-2 tie in the seventh after Brock Holt's one-out triple, but with the infield pulled in, third baseman Nick Castellanos made a diving stop on a Xander Bogaerts grounder and threw him out at first. Ortiz then flied deep to center against lefty reliever Phil Coke, who was brought in to face Ortiz (now 2-for-19 against Coke).
In the eighth, Coke struck out Bradley with runners on first and second to end the inning.
But when Ortiz stepped to the plate with one out in the ninth, Holt on second and Pedroia on first, he was looking for one thing from former Yankees reliever Chamberlain: a slider.
Ortiz got one that hung out over the plate and sent the 1-1 pitch deep into the right-field stands for his 14th home run of the season.
“You just have to fight,” Ortiz said. “Lately, I think I've made a career of hitting balls right at people. But that's baseball. You just have to fight through it.”
The clutch homer made a winner of John Lackey, who improved to 7-4 with eight solid innings.
“We've seen so much of that,” Lackey said of big home runs by Ortiz. “We think it's a possibility every time he hits. He lives for those situations. You almost expect it.”
The big right-hander allowed three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits. He walked one and struck out five. He threw 112 pitches, 74 for strikes.
“I threw the ball pretty good. Getting to the eighth inning against this club is an accomplishment,” Lackey said. “And we were able to pull it out.”
Koji Uehara retired the side in order in the ninth for his 12th save.
Chamberlain (1-3) took the loss. He gave up three runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout.
First baseman Mike Napoli returned for the Red Sox on Sunday after being on the disabled list since late May due to a sprained finger on his left hand and made an immediate impact. His line homer into the right-field seats leading off the sixth inning tied the game 2-2. It was Napoli's sixth home run of the season, the first off Sanchez since Napoli hit one against him at Comerica Park in last season's ALCS. Napoli was 3-for-4 with a walk and even stole his first base of the season.
It's safe to say Napoli's presence in the No. 5 spot behind Ortiz was felt.
“They wouldn't have thrown the ball near the strike zone [against Ortiz in the ninth] if Mike wasn't standing on deck,” Lackey said.
Farrell said that Napoli's presence in the lineup also helped the Red Sox drive up Sanchez's pitch count.
Despite getting only two runs and six hits in six innings off of Sanchez, the Red Sox made him throw 112 pitches. He walked two and struck out seven.
With Napoli back, Holt made his professional debut in left field. He continued his hot hitting by going 4-for-5, but he also made an outstanding running, twisting catch in left of Ian Kinsler's long drive to end the third inning. Holt made the catch on the warning track near the fence while running toward the fence and the left-field line.
“Unbelievable” Ortiz said. “That's a guy who's never played left field before. He's very athletic.”
An error by Bogaerts at third on Austin Jackson's grounder in the seventh gave Detroit the opportunity to take the lead. The miscue put runners on first and second with none out. One out later, Eugenio Suarez's line single to left brought home Nick Castellanos to make it 3-2.
But Bogaerts made amends in the bottom of the ninth, making a diving stop on hot smash by Castellanos to get the second out and leaping to snare a liner by Jackson to end it.