DETROIT — Austin Jackson was dropped from first to eighth in the batting order, and suddenly the Boston Red Sox couldn’t get him out.
A revitalized Jackson delivered in manager Jim Leyland’s revamped lineup as the Detroit Tigers built a big lead and held on this time, beating the Red Sox 7-3 Wednesday night to even the AL championship series 2-all.
Torii Hunter had a two-run double and Miguel Cabrera drove in two runs after Leyland dropped the slumping Jackson to eighth in the order and moved almost everyone else up a place following the Tigers’ 1-0 loss in Game 3. Jackson drew a bases-loaded walk off Jake Peavy for the first run of Detroit’s five-run second inning.
“I think it just helped me relax,” Jackson said. “That was the goal. To get me to relax a little, be patient get a good pitch and let the rest take care of itself.”
Doug Fister allowed a run in six innings, and after blowing a 5-0 lead in Game 2, Detroit kept the Red Sox at bay Wednesday.
Game 5 is Thursday night in Detroit. The Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez faces Boston’s Jon Lester in a rematch of Game 1, which was won by Detroit 1-0.
Jackson finished with two singles and two walks. Jacoby Ellsbury had four hits for the Red Sox, finishing a homer shy of the cycle.
The Tigers lost Games 2 and 3, wasting gems by Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Jackson was 3 for 33 with 18 strikeouts in the postseason before Wednesday, and although Leyland left him in the lineup, he changed the batting order. Jackson hit eighth, and with others moving up a spot, it made for an odd-looking order. Hunter hit leadoff for the first time since 1999 and Cabrera was second for only the third time in his career — first since 2004.
“That was pretty good. He switched things up, kinda shake it up a little bit,” Hunter said. “It gave us a different mindset. Miggy hitting second, me leading off. It gave us a different mindset to make things happen.”
Jackson found himself batting in a crucial situation right away, with the bases loaded and one out in the second. Peavy walked him on four pitches to force home the game’s first run.
The Red Sox had a chance to halt that rally when Jose Iglesias hit a potential double play grounder to second, but Dustin Pedroia couldn’t field it cleanly and Boston had to settle for a forceout at second that brought another run home.
Hunter followed with a double down the line in left to make it 4-0, and Cabrera added an RBI single.
After walking three batters in the second inning, Peavy was in trouble again in the fourth. After a leadoff double by Omar Infante, Jackson slapped a single past a diving Pedroia to bring home a run.
Cabrera’s single made it 7-0, and the Detroit third baseman — who has been running even slower than usual over the last month or so because of groin problems — caught reliever Brandon Workman and the Boston defense napping when he stole second without a throw.
In the fifth, Cabrera looked healthy enough when he charged Pedroia’s slow grounder, barehanded it and threw to first for the out.
Peavy allowed seven runs and five hits in three-plus innings.
Detroit blew a 5-0 lead in Game 2 — with the bullpen responsible for most of the damage— and Cabrera and Prince Fielder both struck out with runners at the corners in the eighth inning of Game 3. The tension was building in Motown, but the defending AL champions jumped out to an early lead Wednesday.
David Ortiz’s tying grand slam in Game 2 off Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit kept the Tigers from sweeping the first two games at Fenway Park.
Detroit went to Benoit in the ninth Wednesday with a 7-2 lead, and Ellsbury hit an RBI triple with none out. But Benoit struck out Shane Victorino, ensuring that Ortiz wouldn’t be able to bat as the tying run later in the inning.
When Ortiz did come up for his rematch with Benoit, there was only one man on. The Boston designated hitter took another mighty swing, but his high fly to right was caught easily.
Detroit had taken a no-hitter into the fifth inning of its previous four games. Pedroia’s single in the first put an end to that streak, but the Red Sox didn’t do much against Fister.
NOTES: Hunter was in the starting lineup as a leadoff hitter for the first time since July 4, 1999, when he played for the Minnesota Twins. The last time Cabrera started a game hitting second was June 28, 2004, when he played for the Florida Marlins. ... The Boston bullpen, which has been outstanding in this postseason, worked five scoreless innings.