The Sox frittered away early opportunities, leaving men in scoring position through the middle innings, then devastated the Tigers with a nine-run explosion in the eighth inning. Pitching again kept the Sox close until their bats arrived, with rookie Josh Stewart going into the seventh in his first major-league start. Damaso Marte relieved him in the seventh after Ramon Santiago's two-out double and gave up a Bobby Higginson single for a short-lived 2-1 Detroit lead.
Frank Thomas led off the eighth with a walk and Josh Paul came on to pinch-run. Paul moved to second on a wild pitch by Franklyn German and took third on a single to right by Magglio Ordonez.
Paul Konerko, who walked as a pinch-hitter for starter Brian Daubach in the sixth, then hit a slow roller to first baseman Carlos Pena. Pena looked home but had no chance to get Paul, who scored the tying run. He looked to second but was too late to force Ordonez. Finally he lobbed a soft toss to pitcher Steve Sparks, who dropped the ball for an error that led to eight unearned runs.
Third baseman Joe Crede walked to load the bases, and two outs later catcher Miguel Olivo walked to force in the go-ahead run for a 3-2 lead. Second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez, whose first home run of the season in the third started the Sox's scoring, then lined a ground-rule double inside third to score Konerko and Crede for a 5-2 lead.
Jose Valentin was walked intentionally and Paul, in his first at-bat of the season, drove in Olivo and Jimenez with a single. Ordonez then delivered his second hit of the inning, a three-run homer into the left-field seats for the final runs.
Billy Koch finished up with two strikeouts in the ninth.
The Tigers earlier had ended a string of 16 scoreless innings against Sox pitching with the tying run in the fifth. Catcher Brandon Inge singled to open the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice by Ramon Santiago and scored on a Gene Kingsale single.
Stewart pitched into the seventh and left with two outs and two on to the sound of his first major-league standing ovation from the crowd of 14,514.
"I wasn't really expecting that," Stewart said of the ovation. "It was a good feeling and gave me some goose bumps walking off the field. It was really nice. I tried to look up to where my family and friends were sitting and give them a little head nod, but I don't know if they saw me or not."
Stewart is in the rotation because Dan Wright is on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. Wright, as a 14-game winner last season, will go back into the mix when he returns, setting up the possibility that Stewart, if he continues to pitch well in his chances over the next two weeks, could earn a spot in the bullpen.
"I would have no problem with that at all," said Stewart, whose only relief experience came in spring training. "I would accept any role. I'm just excited to be here and very fortunate to have this opportunity."