BOSTON – Carl Crawford hit a bases-loaded single in the ninth inning Thursday night to lift the Boston Red Sox to their season-high sixth straight victory, 4-3 against the Detroit Tigers.

“I think we’re just playing the game well,” said Jed Lowrie, who was part of the ninth-inning rally that extended Boston’s longest winning streak since last June.

It was more thrilling than it had to be for the Red Sox, whose bullpen couldn’t hold a 3-1 lead after starter Josh Beckett left with stiffness in his neck before the seventh.

Daniel Bard allowed back-to-back homers to Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera in the eighth. Jonathan Papelbon (2-0) got the win after pitching a scoreless but hectic ninth, then the Red Sox came through against Al Alburquerque (0-1) in the bottom half.

J.D. Drew and David Ortiz homered for Boston, and Beckett pitched six strong innings. He was pulled before the seventh; the Red Sox took no chances on a cool, misty night.

“It got stiff, then it got stiffer, and that’s not something to mess around with,” Manager Terry Francona said of Beckett’s neck. “He’ll be OK.”

The Red Sox next are home against the Chicago Cubs when interleague play begins tonight in the first meeting between the teams at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series.

Justin Verlander went eight innings, striking out nine and holding the Red Sox to six hits and no walks. But two of the hits were solo homers by Ortiz and Drew.

The Tigers’ offense also didn’t help much, stranding 10 runners.

“We’re just not doing a good enough job of taking advantage of our scoring opportunities,” Manager Jim Leyland said.

Kevin Youkilis walked leading off the ninth and Boston brought in pinch-runner Jose Iglesias, who went to third when Ortiz hit a single to right through the Tigers’ infield shift. Detroit walked Drew to load the bases with nobody out and Lowrie hit a blooper that dropped in shallow left. But Andy Dirks threw home in time for a forceout.

“That probably doesn’t happen often,” Lowrie said. “At the end of the day we got the result we wanted.”

Darnell McDonald replaced Ortiz as a pinch-runner at third and had an easy trot home when Crawford lined a ball over the head of center field Austin Jackson.

Papelbon got himself in trouble in the ninth. He allowed singles to Brandon Inge and Jackson, then walked Scott Sizemore to load the bases with one out. Papelbon struck out Boesch on three pitches, then got Cabrera swinging to keep it tied.

Boesch led off the eighth with a homer to right off Bard. Cabrera followed with a drive over the Green Monster to make it 3-3.

Drew drove a 1-0 pitch to the seats in deep right field in the fourth. Ortiz’s shot through the fog in the seventh carried over the Tigers’ bullpen and put the Sox up, 3-1.

“He’s got great stuff,” Ortiz said of Verlander. “You’ve got to make sure that when he gives you something to hit, you don’t waste it.”

Beckett was pulled after only 83 pitches. The Red Sox weren’t about to risk losing another starting pitcher. Boston put John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list already this week with right elbow strains.

Andy Dirks’ RBI single in the second ended Beckett’s career-long scoreless innings streak at 19.

NOTES: The Red Sox after the game said they agreed to a minor league deal with Kevin Millwood and acquired left-hander Franklin Morales from Colorado for a player to be named or cash.

The Red Sox also designated struggling left-hander Hideki Okajima for assignment.