Detroit — Matthew Boyd wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t need to be.
Very good was good enough for Boyd, who scattered four hits over eight shutout innings and stifled the Cincinnati Reds, leading the Tigers to a 2-1 interleague victory on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
Boyd navigated through two jams — a runner on third in the second inning and bases loaded in the fourth — and notched his longest and best outing of the season. He finished with seven strikeouts and retired the last 11 batters he faced, giving way to Shane Greene, who gave up a run but earned his 22nd save.
Reds starter Homer Bailey was perfect through the first 11 batters — and pitched very well through the rest of the game.
It wasn’t good enough.
Through the first seven innings, Bailey only allowed one hit — a home run to Niko Goodrum in the fourth inning — and a walk but didn’t get any run support, as Boyd had one of the Tigers’ best outings of the season.
“He worked quickly and used his fastball and got them off the fastball with some nice breaking balls and some backdoor sliders,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said of Boyd. “He mixed up all his pitches.”
The Tigers were able to open it up in the eighth.
John Hicks started with a leadoff single and Jose Iglesias reached on a fielder’s choice. Mike Gerber, who was called up from Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday after the Tigers traded Leonys Martin, got his first major league hit and RBI, on a double to left, scoring Iglesias, for a 2-0 lead, which was more than enough support for Boyd.
"It was huge, a big hit and he sliced it down there. He’d been swinging good and had a great day down (at Toledo) and barreled up everything he swung at," Gardenhire said. "Good for him. First hit, first RBI and got doused in (the clubhouse). It's the old rookie treatment, so good for him."
The celebration was a bit emotional for Gerber, but in the clubhouse, he looked teary-eyed in the aftermath. He can thank his teammates, who doused him in their postgame jubilation.
“My eyes probably look like I’ve been crying a little but I think someone dumped Listerine on my head in the shower, so my eyes are burning right now,” Gerber said, “but it’s been a fun day.”
The Reds had their chances early, but couldn’t capitalize. In the second inning, Eugenio Suarez doubled to left and moved to third on a grounder.
Tucker Barnhart hit a shallow fly ball to center field and Suarez tagged up and tried to score, but JaCoby Jones cut him down with a perfect throw to catcher James McCann, ending the threat with a highlight-reel double play.
“I just wanted to make a play. I wanted to charge it and make a strong throw and give (McCann) a chance,” Jones said. “I didn’t want to throw it low.
“Once I released it, I knew it had a chance. It was on line, so it was a good throw.”
In the fourth inning, the Reds had another chance. Phillip Ervin had a leadoff double and Joey Votto followed with a double to right-center, but Ervin held at third. Boyd struck out Suarez and Scooter Gennett walked, loading the bases with two outs.
Boyd (6-9) got Barnhart to ground out into a fielder’s choice at third, ending the inning. Boyd seemed to gain strength there, giving up a leadoff single in the fifth, but nothing else the rest of the way.
The Reds got their only run in the ninth, after a leadoff triple by Ervin, who scored on a sacrifice fly by Suarez. Greene ended the game by striking out Gennett.
Bailey (1-8) finished with only three hits allowed in his complete game, with six strikeouts.
“He had a good feel for our hitters and moved the ball in and out and the guys a veteran. He’s not going to fail all the time,” Gardenhire said. “He might not be having the greatest year he’s ever had but the guy can pitch; We’ve faced him before and he hid the ball good on us and he threw it well.”