DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers accomplished a feat no team had in the wild-card era.

Ramon Santiago hit a two-run homer and Armando Galarraga was sharp in his first start of the season, helping Detroit beat the Boston Red Sox 5-1 on Sunday. The Tigers are the first team to win four straight series at home against reigning playoff teams since 1995, when baseball began putting four teams in each league in the postseason, according to STATS LLC.

Detroit took two of three against Boston after winning three of four over the defending champion Yankees, sweeping the Angels and beating the Twins in two of three games.

“It means we’re a good team,” said Johnny Damon, one of the many newcomers having success with the Tigers. “But it’s too premature to say how it will all shake out.”

The Tigers needed an extra starter because of a doubleheader on Wednesday, so Galarraga was called up from Triple-A Toledo and made his first start of the season. He gave up one run on three hits over 52/3 innings.

A day after Detroit pitchers issued 12 walks in a 7-6, 12-inning victory, Galarraga got off to a rough start with five straight balls, drawing sarcastic cheers with his first strike. He also walked the third batter, but was sharp after that.

“I was not nervous, but excited,” Galarraga said. “I was off, but I got my rhythm.”

Galarraga bounced back quickly by getting Kevin Youkilis to line out and David Ortiz to strike out in the first and by retiring the side in order the next inning.

Galarraga started spring training in a three-way competition with Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson to be the No. 5 starter. Willis won the job, and Robertson was dealt to Florida.

John Lackey (4-2) allowed five runs on nine hits and four walks over seven innings for Boston.

“There were a couple things that happened early where, well, if they don’t happen it is a different game,” he said. “I thought I threw a lot better than my line indicated.”

Lackey threw 50-plus pitches in the first two innings and finished with 123 pitches. He gave up six runs in his previous outing, but still won his third straight decision.

In his first at-bat in the majors, Detroit’s Danny Worth hit a two-out RBI infield single in the second inning after fellow rookie Alex Avila fouled off six pitches with two strikes and drew 12-pitch walk. Lackey had a chance to get out of the inning on Worth’s grounder to the right side, but he missed the bag covering first base.

Damon’s bases-loaded walk on a full-count pitch made it 2-0.

“The second inning really hurt him,” Boston Manager Terry Francona said. “He walked three guys and threw 38 pitches, but he really battled after that.”

Jeremy Hermida’s RBI double scored Jonathan Van Every, who led off the third with a double, to make it 2-1.

But the Tigers got that run back in the bottom half on singles by Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch and a fielder’s choice grounder by Brandon Inge. Ramon Santiago stretched the lead to 5-1 with a two-run homer in the fourth.

Galarraga’s day ended with a walk to David Ortiz that put two on with two outs in the sixth inning, and he was given a standing ovation for a solid performance on a day the bullpen needed it after Saturday night’s 12-inning win.

Jeremy Bonderman, who started in Wednesday’s doubleheader and will start Wednesday, got Mike Lowell on a foul popup to end the threat. Bonderman retired the first two in the seventh and was replaced by Fu-Te Ni, who survived a bases-loaded jam by striking out Drew.

Ryan Perry gave up a leadoff single in the eighth, then struck out Ortiz, and third baseman Inge made a spectacular play on Lowell’s grounder in the hole, making a backhanded throw to start an inning-ending double play.

Jose Valverde put two on in the ninth, pitching in a non-save situation.


NOTES: Boston’s Dustin Pedroia was rested after Francona noticed him limping a little after twisting his right knee the previous night, but he’s expected to play tonight. … Josh Beckett is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game for the Red Sox.


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