DETROIT — Jim Leyland dropped Austin Jackson to eighth in the batting order, hoping to relax the slumping Detroit outfielder.
So naturally, Jackson’s first plate appearance came with the bases loaded. After drawing a four-pitch walk to force in a run, he finally felt a little more at ease.
A revitalized Jackson delivered in Leyland’s revamped lineup as the Tigers built a big lead and held on this time, beating the Boston Red Sox 7-3 Wednesday night to even the AL Championship Series 2-all. Detroit scored five runs in the second inning, the first coming home on Jackson’s walk.
“It was a big situation right there to try to get something done,” Jackson said. “I think after I’d seen a couple of pitches I was able to kind of just take some deep breaths and relax a little bit — and not worry so much about the result, just try to get a good pitch.”
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Jackson finished with two singles and two walks. He was 3 for 33 with 18 strikeouts in this postseason before Wednesday.
Torii Hunter had a two-run double and Miguel Cabrera drove in two runs after Leyland moved the slumping Jackson out of the leadoff spot and bumped almost everyone else up a place following the Tigers’ 1-0 loss in Game 3.
“They executed, they came out, they played well,” Leyland said.
Jackson’s bases-loaded walk off Jake Peavy in the second seemed to be a relief for most of Comerica Park. Another strikeout could have derailed the rally, but instead the Tigers broke the game open.
Doug Fister, meanwhile, provided another fine outing for Detroit. He allowed a run in six innings, and the Tigers’ starting pitchers have yielded only three runs in 27 ALCS innings — and struck out 42.
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, won by Detroit 1-0.
Jacoby Ellsbury had four hits for the Red Sox, but now it’s Boston manager John Farrell fielding questions about whether a lineup shake-up is in order after another tough night against Detroit’s pitching.
“The one thing that we’ve maintained is a constant approach with the lineup and not creating further uncertainty,” Farrell said. “I think our guys have responded well to that.”
• Don Baylor is returning to the Los Angeles Angels to be their hitting coach, replacing Jim Eppard. Baylor, 64, had been Arizona’s hitting coach for the past three years. He is a former manager of the Rockies and Cubs, and won the AL MVP award while playing for the Angels in 1979.