HOUSTON (AP) — (EXTERNAL) Matt Vierling made a sprawling bases-loaded catch and hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the 11th inning as the Detroit Tigers rebounded from a meltdown in the ninth to beat the Houston Astros 7-6 on Monday night for their first win after an 0-3 start.
Detroit wasted a 4-0 lead but Riley Greene’s seventh-inning homer off Bryan Abreu put the Tigers ahead 5-4. Vierling’s backhand grab in right on Maurico Dubon’s two-out liner stopped Houston’s four-run rally in the fifth.
Alex Lange, trying for his second major league save and first since 2021, allowed a one-out single to Alex Bregman in the ninth. Yordan Alvarez hit a sharp grounder to Spencer Torkelson, who stepped on first base and threw to second for what could have been a game-ending double play.
The throw hit Bregman on the back and, with an 0-2 count, José Abreu reached for a low and outide curveball and drove the ball to left. Austin Meadows tried for a leaping catch at the wall, and the ball bounced out of his glove for an RBI double. Chas McCormick followed with a flyout.
“They hung in there and kept fighting,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “It felt like we were one pitch away in a couple different innings. It is never over until you get the final out. We had to play some extra outs tonight but had some productive plays.”
Vierling, acquired from Philadelphia in an offseason trade, hit a one-out homer in the 11th off Héctor Neris (0-1) that scored Torkelson, the automatic runner.
“It’s huge,” Vierling said. “You beat a good team like that, and you compete with them until the very end, I think it shows a lot of character. You can kind of build on that throughout the year. It’s a good start.”
Trey Wingenter (1-0) pitched a perfect 10th. Alvarez grounded into a run-scoring forceout in the 11th, and Garrett Hill retired Abreu on a popup for his first save since 2017 at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Detroit avoided its first 0-4 start since the 2008 season.
Houston swept Detroit 7-0 in the 2022 season series. The defending champions are off to a 2-3 start.
Wearing all blue uniforms with “Space City” across their chests, the Astros had just one hit through the first four innings. They tied the score in the fifth on Jeremy Peña RBI grounder off starter Matthew Boyd and Alvarez’s three-run homer against José Cisnero, a changeup Alvarez drove 435 feet off the upper desk concourse in right-center.
Alvarez reached 100 homers in 372 games, beating Lance Berkman’s 452 for the fastest with the Astros.
Astros starter Hunter Brown, a suburban Detroit native who grew up a Tigers fan and played baseball at Wayne State, allowed four runs, six hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings with five strikeouts.
Eric Haase hit a two-run single in the second, and Detroit doubled the lead in the fourth on Javier Báez’s run-scoring single off Brown and Phil Maton’s bases-loaded walk of Torkelson.
Houston’s David Hensley, a San Diego State baseball player from 2015-18, went 1 for 4 with a walk as the Aztecs lost to Connecticut in the NCAA men’s basketball final a few miles away, on the southside of town.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch was received warmly with loud applause from the Minute Maid Park crowd during pregame introductions. Hinch won a World Series as Houston’s manager in 2017 before being fired in 2020 in the wake of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
Astros C Martín Maldonado caught Vierling trying to steal second in the fourth inning. Two pitches earlier, Vierling had a good jump Zach McKinstry fouled off the pitch.
Astros OF Bligh Madris and IF J.J. Matijevic both cleared waivers and were assigned outright to Triple A Sugar Land.
Detroit: Tyler Nevin (left oblique strain) started in left field for his rehab assignment at Triple A Toledo on Sunday, going 2 for 3 with a double.
Houston ace LHP Framber Valdez faces Detroit RHP Matt Manning on Tuesday in the second game of the three-game series.