Red Sox take 2-1 series lead
DETROIT — Mike Napoli’s seventh-inning solo home run broke up a classic pitching duel between Boston’s John Lackey and Detroit’s Justin Verlander, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Junichi Tazawa got the key out of the game for Boston, feeding Miguel Cabrera four consecutive outside fastballs to strike out the Detroit slugger with runners on first and third with one out in the eighth.
Austin Jackson walked with one out against Craig Breslow and went to third on Torii Hunter’s line single to right off Tazawa.
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara entered to face Prince Fielder, and he struck out the Tigers slugger out on three pitches, then worked the ninth for his third postseason save.
Doug Fister, a relative soft-tosser when lined up with Detroit’s first three starters in the series, will pitch for the Tigers on Wednesday against Boston’s Jake Peavy.
Lackey more than matched Verlander during his 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out eight. His curveball was exceptionally sharp.
He was visibly irked when manager John Farrell came out to remove him from the game with a runner on and two outs in the seventh.
“Come on, man,” the television cameras caught him saying. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
But Farrell wasn’t, calling on the lefty Breslow, who walked left-handed-hitting Alex Avila to put the tying run in scoring position before getting Omar Infante on an inning-ending grounder.
Napoli snapped Verlander’s postseason scoreless innings streak at 21 with his one-out home run to left center on a 96 mph, 3-2 fastball that was just a touch above the belt but right over the heart of the plate.
Verlander finished the regular season with 13 scoreless innings, added 15 more in Detroit’s AL Division Series win over the Oakland A’s. He held Boston without a run the first 6 1/3 innings Tuesday.
Verlander didn’t allow his first hit until Jonny Gomes grounded a single up the middle with two out in the fifth, the first time in the series Boston got its first hit prior to the sixth inning. Verlander tied the major league postseason record with six consecutive strikeouts in the second and third innings.
Lackey fed Infante a steady stream of curveballs and finally fanned him on a 3-2 pitch with a man on third and one out in the fifth. Andy Dirks grounded out to end the inning.
Play was halted for 17 minutes prior to the bottom of the second inning when a brief power interruption killed the lights. The Tigers reported a nearby substation went offline briefly to cause the outage.
Notes: The three-team deal July 30 that sent Peavy to Boston and SS Jose Iglesias to Detroit was “a great baseball trade because it clearly had specific needs and fits for the three teams involved,” Farrell said. “You have to give up a quality player to get a quality player in return.” ... Cabrera reached base in all 31 of his playoff games with Detroit, the longest streak in baseball history in the postseason, before going 0-for-4 Tuesday. ... Red Sox relievers ran their streak of scoreless innings to 11 2/3 by blanking the Tigers for 2 1/3 innings Tuesday. ... Dirks went 0-for-2 in his first start of the series. “He’s struggled a little bit, been off, had time to clear the cobwebs,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “(We’re) not getting a lot of production out of left field unless we played (Jhonny) Peralta there.”
Matt Holliday and Shane Robinson homered in support of 5 1/3 strong innings from Lance Lynn as visiting St. Louis grabbed a 3-1 lead over Los Angeles in the National League Championship Series.
Matt Carpenter added an RBI double and scored in a three-run third for the Cardinals, who can close out the series behind Joe Kelly in Game 5 on Wednesday. Lynn (2-1) allowed two runs on six hits and two relievers bridged the gap to Trevor Rosenthal, who worked around a leadoff walk for his third save of the postseason.
Ricky Nolasco (0-1) was charged with three runs on as many hits in four innings while Yasiel Puig and A.J. Ellis drove in runs for the Dodgers. Los Angeles will try to keep its season alive behind Zack Greinke in Game 5.
Daniel Descalso led off the third with a single for St. Louis' first hit before moving up on a sacrifice and coming home on Carpenter's double to left. Nolasco got Carlos Beltran to ground out but left a first-pitch sinker up to Holliday, who belted it out to left.
Puig plated Adrian Gonzalez with a single in the fourth and Ellis added an RBI single later in the frame before Lynn got pinch hitter Skip Schumaker to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Robinson added an insurance run off J.P. Howell in the seventh with a line drive that bounced off the top of the left field wall and into the seats.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Carpenter entered the contest 3-for-30 with nine strikeouts and one extra-base hit in the postseason while Holliday was 0-for-13 in the series prior to his home run. ... Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez (ribs) was in the starting lineup but went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and was noticeably grimacing in pain before being removed. ... St. Louis 3B David Freese (tight right calf) passed mobility tests before the game and was in the starting lineup, going 0-for-3.