After swinging through a 99-mph fastball on a 3-1 count, Daniel Nava had a pretty good idea what the next pitch from Justin Verlander would be.
Verlander threw one even harder, hitting 100 mph, but Nava drove it down the left field line for a two-out double with the bases loaded in the fourth inning and the Boston Red Sox went on to beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 on Tuesday night and move above .500 for the first time this season.
“I tried to just calm myself down and keep it simple,” said Nava, whose bases-clearing double put Boston up 4-0 against the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young winner.
The Red Sox tagged Verlander for 10 hits and improved to 25-24, finally achieving a winning record after going 0-5 in games that could have put them above .500. Boston fans had to wait a while to enjoy the moment because of a 38-minute rain delay with one out in the bottom of the eighth.
“I don’t think that’s something we’re saying – `finally,”‘ Nava said. “We’re looking at it like we’ve got good momentum. We’ve got things going in the right direction. If you see the scoreboard, in the AL East things are still pretty tight. There’s a lot of season left.”
David Ortiz homered and hit two doubles to lead the Red Sox, who were without second baseman Dustin Pedroia a day after he aggravated a thumb injury. Pedroia said after the game he has a slight muscle tear, but hopes to avoid going on the disabled list.
The Red Sox did just fine without their peskiest hitter and did it against one of the top pitchers in the AL.
Verlander (5-3) lost his second straight start since taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Pittsburgh on May 18. He allowed five runs on 10 hits, struck out seven and walked one in six innings.
“I felt like they made a really good adjustment against me. I felt like I was actually pitching decent and they were hitting some decent pitches,” Verlander said. “Obviously this is a good lineup and they were more than capable of doing that. I can’t say I pitched bad, but it was a battle because of the way that they were putting together at-bats against me.”
Daniel Bard (5-5) pitched 5 1-3 innings for Boston, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Boston used four relievers before Alfredo Aceves came in after the rain delay and finished the eighth, then held the Tigers scoreless in the ninth for his 12th save.
Jhonny Peralta and Prince Fielder hit solo homers for the Tigers, who fell to 0-2 in the four-game series.
“Hopefully we can bust some hits together, get a few more guys hitting,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “There’s been too many dead spots in our lineup so far this year up to this point. We’ve shown signs of breaking out of it at times but we just haven’t done it consistently.”
Verlander hadn’t allowed 10 hits in a game since September 2010. Boston got four alone in a three-run fourth inning. Kevin Youkilis, Mike Aviles and Scott Podsednik all singled to load the bases before Nava’s two-out double.
“That at-bat was as good an at-bat as I’ve seen in years. A 100-mph fastball on a 3-2 pitch,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said of Nava’s hit. “It was a great competition.”
Verlander came in with 16.2 consecutive scoreless innings against Boston, but the streak ended in the second when Ortiz led off with a double off the Green Monster and scored on a fielder’s choice by Mike Aviles, who avoided a double play by beating out Peralta’s throw.
Peralta hit a solo homer in the fifth for the Tigers’ first run and Fielder added a solo shot in the sixth.
Ortiz hit his second double of the game in the fifth, bringing Adrian Gonzalez all the way in from first for a 5-1 lead. Ortiz tried to push it for a triple and was easily thrown out at third.
Ortiz atoned for the base-running mistake with a homer to left in the seventh.