Kirk Gibson had two home runs on a four-for-four day and drove in five runs to lead the Tigers to a 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the teams' season opener yesterday in Detroit.
Gibson's winning homer came in the seventh inning on a two-strike count off reliever Sammy Stewart after Lou Whitaker had singled.
"I was trying to be aggressive like I was on the first two pitches," Stewart said. "I wanted to throw another fast ball inside like the first two, but I got it out over the plate, waist high, and he hit it."
Boston Manager John McNamara was miffed with Stewart's mistake. "We hit the ball like we're expected to," he said. "But I didn't like the 0-2 pitches they were hitting and my pitchers will hear about it Tuesday when we work out. It wasn't just the pitches Gibson hit. Darrell Evans and Larry Herndon had 0-2 base hits, too."
Detroit's Jack Morris pitched a shaky seven innings, allowing 12 hits -- including four home runs -- but he earned his sixth opening-day victory with Willie Hernandez getting the save.
Dwight Evans hit the first pitch of the season for a homer off Morris and Jim Rice homered in the third. It was Evans' fifth opening-day homer.
The Tigers scored in the bottom of the third when Darnell Coles singled, Lou Whitaker walked and Gibson singled off starter Bruce Hurst.
Detroit erased Boston's 2-1 lead with three runs in the fourth. Darrell Evans singled and scored on a triple by Dave Collins. Gibson then smashed the next pitch by Hurst high into the upper deck in center field.
With two out in the seventh, Rice singled and scored on a game-tying homer by Don Baylor. Rich Gedman followed with a solo homer, giving Boston its final lead before Gibson's game-winning homer.
"It was just too good to be true," said Gibson, who waved his glove at the cheering crowd when he returned to right field after the first homer and tipped his cap after the second one.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to justify all I went through over the winter," said Gibson, who went through bitter contract negotiations before signing a three-year, $4.2 million deal just minutes before the free-agent deadline expired. "The last day I can compare this with is the last game of the 1984 World Series. This doesn't happen very often."
*Brewers 5, White Sox 3: Ernest Riles hit a two-run homer and Rob Deer hit a solo homer onto the roof off Tom Seaver to give Milwaukee the season-opening victory in Chicago.
Teddy Higuera, a 15-game winner as a rookie last year, allowed seven hits over seven innings before a crowd of 42,375. Mark Clear got the final two outs for the save.
Seaver, extending his major-league record in making his 16th opening-day start, lasted 5 1/3 innings. He is 7-2 on opening day for his career, 1-1 with Chicago.
The White Sox moved home plate eight feet farther back this season, but Deer made up that distance and more with his second-inning homer, the ball landing on the left-field roof. It was the 41st homer to land on the roof in Comiskey Park's history.
Deer came to the Brewers in a trade from San Francisco for a couple of minor league pitchers. "Power was the No. 1 reason," General Manager Harry Dalton said of the trade. "He hit eight homers with San Francisco but didn't have a lot of at bats. With 500 at bats, he might hit 30 home runs."
The White Sox tied it in the bottom of the second on Ron Kittle's double and Tim Hulett's single. Riles hit his homer in the fourth after Billy Joe Robidoux had singled, giving the Brewers a 3-1 lead.
Chicago picked up a run in the fifth on a walk to Wayne Tolleson, Harold Baines' third of four singles and a fly ball by Carlton Fisk. Fisk also had a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Milwaukee came back with two runs in the sixth. Paul Molitor doubled and scored on Robidoux's single to chase Seaver. Dave Schmidt took over and got Riles to force Robidoux. Riles then came around on singles by Deer and Paul Householder