The Astros led 1-0 going into the ninth and Houston closer Ryan Pressly struck out the first two batters. Miguel Cabrera, Zach McKinstry and Javier Báez then singled, and pinch-runner Carson Kelly scored from second on Báez's liner into center.
Meadows, playing his fourth career game, then homered to right field.
“I saw a hanging slider and I was able to take advantage of it,” Meadows said. “This doesn't feel real.”
Alex Lange (6-3) worked the ninth for the win. It was the fifth blown save for Pressly (3-4) in 33 opportunities.
Houston wasted a stellar start by Framber Valdez, who struck out six and walked five in seven hitless innings. The left-hander, who threw a no-hitter against Cleveland on Aug. 1, matched a career high with 114 pitches.
“We couldn't get anything in the air against him, and it seemed like everything we hit on the ground was right at an infielder,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "But our at-bats were the reason we got him out of the game in 114 pitches.
“We knew once we got to their all-righty bullpen, we could throw our lefties at them.”
The 29-year-old Valdez became the seventh pitcher with two hitless starts in a season of at least seven innings. Max Scherzer was the last major leaguer to accomplish the feat in 2015 with the Washington Nationals.
Bryan Abreu relieved Valdez and retired Matt Vierling on a popup before pinch-hitter Kerry Carpenter singled on a grounder through the hole between first and second.
The Tigers missed an opportunity to score in the second. Valdez hit Jake Rogers and walked Riley Greene. Cabrera hit a ball to the wall in right, but Kyle Tucker kept it in the park.
Rogers took third on the play, but tried to score on Zack Short’s grounder to third and Alex Bregman threw him out.
Houston took the lead in the third. José Abreu reached on Short’s throwing error and Rogers was called for catcher’s interference on Jeremy Peña. After Martín Maldonado’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Jose Altuve hit a high chopper for an RBI single.
Altuve's infield single was Houston's only hit off Matt Manning, who pitched 6 1/3 innings before leaving with a back strain.
“He slipped and something in his back grabbed at him,” Hinch said. "He was brilliant, but we weren't taking any chances.
“He's in the middle of the celebration, so that's a good sign.”
The Astros nearly scored again in the fourth, but Meadows made a jumping catch at the center-field wall to take extra bases away from Yordan Alvarez.
“Before tonight, Parker was best known for playing defense,” Hinch said with a smile. “We're so happy with him in center field that we moved Riley Greene to make room for him. That says a lot.”
The Astros optioned right-hander Brandon Bielak to Triple-A Sugar Land after he threw 5 1/3 innings in a 17-1 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday. They recalled right-hander Ronel Blanco to take his spot.
After throwing errors in the third and fifth innings, Short received a loud cheer from the Comerica Park crowd when he successfully threw out Bregman in the sixth. Rogers also committed two errors, both for catcher’s interference.
The teams play the second game of the weekend series on Saturday. Houston RHP Hunter Brown (9-9, 4.50 ERA) facing Tigers LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (9-6, 3.03 ERA).
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