A resurgent John Lackey pitched Thursday night for the Red Sox and on the mound for the Tigers was rookie Jose Alvarez.
While both teams have steady holds on first place, neither had played well going into the game, playing .500 ball over their last 10 games.
Lackey was ineffective in 2011 and missed all of 2012 due to an arm injury, but his 2013 season has been exactly what the Sox hoped for when they signed him to a five-year deal before the 2010 season.
Though Lackey is 4-5 on the season, he carried a 3.08 ERA into this game and got off to a good start, holding the Tigers scoreless over the first four innings.
The 24-year-old Alvarez held the Cleveland Indians to just three hits and one run over six innings in his debut.
The small lefty made his second start in the big leagues, and early on he repeated the success of his first start, matching Lackey in holding the Sox scoreless in the first three innings.
Alvarez was unable to keep up with Lackey, though, as David Ortiz got to him for a leadoff home run in the fourth inning to start the scoring.
The Red Sox tacked on a run in the top of the fifth but a Torii Hunter bases loaded single in the bottom of the inning evened things up at two.
The game wasn't tied for long, though, as Ortiz came through again with a big RBI single to put the Sox ahead 3-2 in the eighth inning.
Andrew Bailey came on in the ninth to try to close it out, but he didn't even record an out. Bailey walked the leadoff man before Johnny Peralta hit a walk-off home run over the wall in left field.
Peralta has been one of the best hitters in the American League all season and he continued that in a huge win tonight.
On Friday night the series will continue as John Lester pitches for the Red Sox against Doug Fister of the Tigers.