Red Sox take 3-2 series lead
DETROIT — Mike Napoli ignited a three-run second inning with a leadoff home run, and Koji Uehara logged a five-out save Thursday night, leading the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers that gives Boston a 3-2 lead in the American League Championship Series.
Game 6 is scheduled for Saturday at Fenway Park, which would be the site of Game 7 if necessary.
Detroit scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to pull within a run, but Uehara was summoned for the last five outs and got them without a problem. The outing was his longest of the postseason. He previously recorded two four-out saves.
Boston left-hander Jon Lester (1-1) allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven hit and three walks while fanning three. Junichi Tazawa went 1 1/3 innings and Craig Breslow recorded two outs to set up Uehara, who had three four-out saves in the regular season and one five-out save.
Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez (1-1) gave up four runs, three earned, on nine hits in six innings. He wasn’t nearly as sharp as he was in Game 1, when he pitched six no-hit innings in a 1-0 win.
Napoli finished with three hits, and Dustin Pedroia and David Ross had two apiece for Boston.
Though down a game, the Tigers will have their two best starters ready for the weekend: Max Scherzer on Saturday and Justin Verlander on Sunday, if necessary.
After Boston jumped ahead 4-0, Detroit finally scored in the fifth off Lester when Austin Jackson singled, moved up on a sacrifice and came home on a two-out single by Miguel Cabrera. It was the sixth consecutive time Jackson reached base since being dropped to eighth in the order. He went 2-for-4 Thursday.
Napoli dashed home from third with the Red Sox’s fourth run with two outs in the third when Sanchez spiked a pitch 15 feet in front of home plate for a wild pitch. Napoli doubled with one out and advanced to third on Jonny Gomes’ groundout back to Sanchez.
Detroit starters were not scored upon in the first five innings of eight straight LCS starts before Boston snapped the streak Thursday. Napoli opened the second with a long home run into the center field shrubbery to start a three-run inning.
Gomes reached on an error by third baseman Cabrera, and rookie Xander Bogaerts doubled to deep left. David Ross hit double off the left field fence that only scored one run due to a baserunning mistake by Bogaerts. Jacoby Ellsbury then smoked an RBI single off Sanchez’s glove for a 3-0 lead.
Cabrera grounded into a double play with runners on first and third and no outs in the seventh to score a run and cut Detroit’s deficit to 4-3. Singles by Jose Iglesias and Torii Hunter preceded the double play.
Victor Martinez walked to start the sixth and scored on singles by Omar Infante off Lester and Brayan Pena off Tazawa, cutting Boston’s lead to 4-2.
NOTES: Detroit C Alex Avila was removed from the game after the top of the fourth because of a left knee patellar tendon strain suffered in a second-inning collision at the plate with Ross, who was tagged out while trying to score on a ground ball. ... Boston RF Shane Victorino, just 2-for-16 in the first four games of the season, hit left-handed for the first time since July in the first inning. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland generally stuck with his re-ordered lineup, but with Boston starting a left-hander, he switched Avila to seventh and 2B Omar Infante to sixth. ... Red Sox manager John Farrell sat slumping 3B Will Middlebrooks, inserting Bogaerts in his place. Bogaerts, 21, is the youngest Red Sox to get a postseason hit and to start a postseason game. ... The ALCS was tied 2-2 for the fifth time since the best-of-seven format was instituted in 1985. In each of the previous four, the Game 5 winner went on to take the series.