Don Kelly's RBI single was the go-ahead hit in a four-run 14th inning, as Detroit outlasted Houston, 7-3, in the opener of a four-game series.
Matt Tuiasosopo added a two-run double and Jhonny Peralta also drove in a run during the deciding frame for the Tigers, who have won six of their last seven.
Luke Putkonen (1-0) worked 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win. He fanned four and gave up just one walk for his first major league victory.
"We got quite a few hits and weren't doing much with them for a while," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But we hung in there. Obviously the pitching staff did a tremendous job."
Jason Castro hit a two-run homer and Carlos Pena added a solo shot for the Astros, who kicked off a season-long 10-game homestand with a defeat in their first extra-inning game of the year.
Dallas Keuchel (0-1) was charged with four runs on seven hits with four walks and as many strikeouts over 4 1/3 relief frames.
Austin Jackson began the inning with a ground-rule double off Keuchel and moved up on a Torii Hunter groundout. Both Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder were given free passes to load the bases, but the move backfired when Kelly singled home the lead run.
Jose Cisnero entered but served up a two-run double from Tuiasosopo and a sacrifice fly from Peralta which made it 7-3.
Putkonen completed his outing by fanning Pena with a runner on second to end the game.
Robbie Grossman began the home first with a double and Castro followed two batters later with a two-run shot.
Back-to-back RBI singles from Hunter and Cabrera in the third tied the score, but Pena's one-out solo shot in the home fourth put Houston back on top.
Detroit evened the score in the eighth. Fielder was plunked by Wesley Wright, who came on for Hector Ambriz after he induced a double-play grounder from Cabrera. Victor Martinez followed with a single, and when Astros outfielder Rick Ankiel couldn't field the ball cleanly, Fielder raced home.
Tuiasosopo walked with two down in the 11th and later was thrown out at home attempting to score on a Brayan Pena single.
The Astros fell to 9-7 all-time vs. Detroit with a 5-2 mark in Houston ... Prior to the game, the Tigers recalled Putkonen from Triple-A Toledo, while Houston recalled starter Jordan Lyles and Keuchel from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned pitchers Brad Peacock and Rhiner Cruz to OKC ... Lyles lasted five innings, during which he allowed six hits and a pair of runs with six strikeouts ... Detroit starter Rick Porcello worked seven full frames, yielding five hits and three runs while fanning seven.