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Final: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  October 17, 2013 07:59 PM

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DETROIT -- Jon Lester pitched six workmanlike innings, Mike Napoli had a home run among his three hits, and Koji Uehara recorded the final five outs with a one-run lead as the Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the American League Championship Series with a 4-3 victory over the Tigers tonight.

Lester earned the first ALCS victory of his career with 5.1 innings of two-run ball. He departed with a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning and runners on first and second. That's when the Red Sox bullpen took over.

Junichi Tazawa relieved Lester and allowed an RBI single to Brayan Pena, who entered the game in the fourth inning for injured Tigers catcher Alex Avila. But Tazawa got Austin Jackson to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

After putting two runners on in the sixth, Tazawa turned another double play -- this time with Miguel Cabrera at the plate. Tazawa struck out Cabrera in a huge moment in Game 3, and this time he got him to turn a first-and-third, no-out situation into a two-out, nobody-on scenario, though the double play scored a run.

Craig Breslow came on the bridge the seventh into the eighth, and then manager John Farrell called on closer Koji Uehara to get five outs. He got them in order, with Jose Iglesias popping to second for the final out.

The Red Sox took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. The Red Sox got their first run of the game -- and their first run off Anibal Sanchez in this series -- on a mammoth Mike Napoli home run to dead center field leading off the inning.

Jonny Gomes reached on an error by Miguel Cabrera at third base, who may still have been marveling at Napoli's drive. Stephen Drew struck out swinging, which brought up Bogaerts. After taking a ball and missing badly on a slider away, he turned on a second slider from Sanchez and roped it into left field for a double, moving Gomes to third.

David Ross, starting in place of Jarrod Saltalamacchia to catch Jon Lester, lined a ball over left fielder Jhonny Peralta's head for a double. Gomes scored, but Bogaerts misread the play and had to stop at third, where he quickly grabbed his helmet with both hands in frustration at his mistake.

But Jacoby Ellsbury took Bogaerts off the hook with hard single off Sanchez's glove, scoring Bogaerts and making it 3-0.

Napoli scored the Red Sox' fourth and final run on a Sanchez wild pitch in the third.

Middle of the ninth: The Red Sox waste their best scoring opportunity since the early innings, leaving runners stranded at second and third.

Xander Bogaerts led off with a walk. Will Middlebrooks pinch-ran for Bogaerts, and it immediately paid dividends.

Middlebrooks alertly went from first to third on David Ross's bunt to Miguel Cabrera. Middlebrooks barely hesitated rounding second, and slid into third safely with catcher Brayan Pena covering. Pena appeared to tag the umpire rather than Middlebrooks on the play.

Alburquerque intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole second.

But Shane Victorino failed to put down a safety squeeze, then swung at a pair of breaking balls in the dirt to strikeout after falling behind 1-2.

That brought up Dustin Pedroia, who hit Alburquerque's first pitch to center for a routine third out.

End of the eighth, Red Sox 4, Tigers 3: And so John Farrell turns to Koji Uehara to get five outs.

He gets two in the eighth, striking out Jhonny Peralta after falling behind 3-1 (Peralta swung at least two balls). He then got Omar Infante on three pitches -- two foul balls and a no-chance hack at a splitter.

Breslow got the first out of the inning, retiring Victor Martinez on a hard grounder to Mike Napoli at first. Napoli, who has been a pleasant surprise as a defensive first baseman, juggled the ball but kept it in front of him.

Al Alburquerque coming in to start the ninth for Detroit. Don Kelly goes to left for Peralta.

Middle of the eighth: Sox go in order against Veras, who is dealing. Mike Napoli strikes out, Jonny Gomes grounds to Fielder, and Stephen Drew, who right now looks like he may never get another hit again, pops to Iglesias in shallow left.

Koji Uehara getting loose in the Sox pen ...

End of the seventh, Red Sox 4, Tigers 3: The Tigers knock another run off what was once a four-run Red Sox lead. Yet considering what it could have been, the inning worked out OK for the Red Sox.

The Tigers had runners at first and third with no one out and reining and future MVP Miguel Cabrera at the plate. On the mound for the Sox? Junichi Tazawa, who whiffed Cabrera on four pitches in a pivotal spot in Game 3.

It was the perfect spot for payback for Cabrera. He did get the run home, but it wasn't what the Tigers were looking for -- he grounded to Dustin Pedroia, who turned an easy 4-3 double play.

Jose Iglesias, who led off with a single to center, came home for the Tigers' third run. But the bases were empty, and Prince Fielder grounded softly to Pedroia against new pitcher Craig Breslow to end the inning.

The Sox went quietly against two Tigers relievers in their half. Phil Coke replaced Anibal Sanchez and got Jacoby Ellsbury to fly to center.

Jose Veras then replaced Coke and struck out Shane Victorino. Dustin Pedroia followed with a single and stole second, but David Ortiz made the third out, flying to Torii Hunter.

The final line on Sanchez: 6 innings, 9 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), no walks, 5 Ks.

End of the sixth, Red Sox 4, Tigers 2: The Tigers keep hanging around, chipping another run off the Red Sox' lead in the bottom half.

Brayan Pena, who entered the game as a replacement for the injured Alex Avila in the fourth inning, singled in Victor Martinez with one out off reliever Junichi Tazawa to plate the Tigers' second run.

Tazawa relieved Jon Lester after his one-out walk to Omar Infante. Tazawa got out of the inning with a 5-4-3 double play.

Lester finishes his second start of the series with this line: 5.1 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 3 walks, 3 strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches.

In the top half, Sanchez set the Red Sox down in order.

Stephen Drew struck out swinging, Bogaerts popped to Iglesias, and David Ross whiffed on what looked like a hanging slider. Sanchez is now at 107 pitches.

End of the fifth, Red Sox 4, Tigers 1: The Tigers get one back on Miguel Cabrera's two-out RBI single to left-center.

That scored Austin Jackson, who singled to center -- his sixth straight time on base -- and advanced to third on Jose Iglesias's bunt.

Torii Hunter popped out before Cabrera put the Tigers on the scoreboard. Prince Fielder ended the inning with a grounder to second.


David Ortiz collects his second hit of the series, a two-out looper to left that Iglesias somehow did not run 100 yards to haul in, and Mike Napoli followed with his third hit of the night, a single to center.

But Johnny Gomes ended the inning with a grounder to Iglesias, ending the threat.

Officially word on Avila, by the way, is that he has a strained patella tendon and is day to day.

End of the fourth, Red Sox 4, Tigers 0: Jon Lester pitches out of a jam of his own making ... though he nearly threw away his chance to get out of it.

The Sox lefty allowed a single to Victor Martinez to open the inning. One out later, he walked Omar Infante on seven pitches, then threw three straight balls to Brayan Pena, who was pinch-hitting for the battered and bruised Alex Avila.

Lester threw a 3-0 strike, then got Pena to hit the next pitch on a one-hopper to the mound. Lester fielded it cleanly but nearly airmailed shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew reached to his right to catch the throw, stepped on second, then threw to first, where Mike Napoli made a nice scoop to complete the double play and end the inning.

Stop me if you've heard this before: Iglesias makes another fine defensive play, turning a quick 4-6-3 double play on speedy Jacoby Ellsbury to end the top half of the inning.

Prince Fielder also deserves a tip of the cap for a George Scott-like scoop on the throw.

David Ross had a one-out single for the Sox -- after fouling a ball off Alex Avila, who is taking a pounding. Looks like he's coming out after the inning, with Brayan Pena coming in.

End of the third, Red Sox 4, Tigers 0: The top of the Tigers' order went 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the inning.

Torii Hunter grounded to third, Miguel Cabrera struck out looking, and Prince Fielder grounded to shortstop.

The highlight so far for the Tigers came in the top of the inning.

Jose Iglesias made a play you'll be seeing on highlight reels for a long time. Yet the Red Sox managed to build their lead to four against Sanchez.

David Ortiz led off with a flare to left-center that looked like it was going to drop for his second hit of the series. But Iglesias, sprinting full speed from his spot to the left of second base, flicked his glove at the last possible second and snagged the ball as the crowd roared.

Related to that, the debate about that Iglesias/Peavy/Avisail Garcia trade is going to rage forever, isn't it?

The Red Sox added another run when Mike Napoli doubled, moved to third on Jonny Gomes's groundout, and scored on a wild pitch with Stephen Drew at the plate.

End of the second, Red Sox 3, Tigers 0: After the Red Sox put up three runs in the top half, Jon Lester shuts down the Tigers in the bottom half.

Austin Jackson singled with two outs -- his fifth straight time reaching base -- and moved to second on a passed ball by Ross. But Jose Iglesias went down swinging to end the inning.

Middle of the second, Red Sox 3, Tigers 0: What's that crooked number there? Is that a 3? Some actually runs and a big inning for the Red Sox?

Indeed it's true, and Xander Bogaerts, inserted into the lineup tonight, was right there in was in the middle of it.

The Red Sox got their first run of the game -- and their first run off Anibal Sanchez in this series -- on a mammoth Mike Napoli home run to dead center field leading off the inning.

Jonny Gomes reached on an error by Miguel Cabrera at third base, who may still have been marveling at Napoli's drive. Stephen Drew struck out swinging, which brought up Bogaerts. After taking a ball and missing badly on a slider away, he turned on a second slider from Sanchez and roped it into left field for a double, moving Gomes to third.

David Ross, starting in place of Jarrod Saltalamacchia to catch Jon Lester, lined a ball over left fielder Jhonny Peralta's head for a double. Gomes scored, but Bogaerts misread the play and had to stop at third, where he quickly grabbed his helmet with both hands in frustration at his mistake.

But Jacoby Ellsbury took Bogaerts off the hook with hard single off Sanchez's glove, scoring Bogaerts and making it 3-0.

Sanchez escaped further damage, getting Shane Victorino hit into a fielder's choice, with Omar Infante throwing out David Ross at the plate. Ross crashed into catcher Alex Avila, who appeared to have his bell rung. Dustin Pedroia grounded to second to end the inning.

End of the first, Tigers 0, Red Sox 0: Jon Lester escaped a developing jam thanks to some curious baserunning by the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera.

With two outs, Cabrera on second and Prince Fielder on first, Jhonny Peralta hit a hard single past a lunging Stephen Drew into left field.

But as Jonny Gomes fielded the ball quickly and cleanly, Cabrera chugged through a stop sign at third -- third-base coach Tom Brookens appeared to initially wave him around -- and was out by 10 feet at home plate as David Ross applied the tag.

Hard to figure what the plodding Cabrera was thinking there. Maybe he was overconfident in his speed after stealing a base last night?

Middle of the first: In Game 1, the Red Sox couldn't manage a hit through six innings against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez.

Tonight, they got one in the first inning when Dustin Pedroia hit a two-out single to left.

That counts as some progress, right?

Unfortunately, the Red Sox couldn't turn the hit into a run. David Ortiz grounded to first baseman Prince Fielder to end the inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury led off by working the count to 3-2 before striking out. Then came a surprise: Shane Victorino, a switch hitter who had been batting exclusively righthanded since mid-August, dug into the box from the left side. The result wasn't what he was hoping for, however: a broken-bat grounder to first base.

The Sox did make Sanchez throw 17 pitches in the first.

Pregame: We're about five minutes away from the first pitch of Game 5 here at Comerica Park. Anibal Sanchez, who whiffed 12, walked 6, and did not allow a hit through his 6 innings in Game 1, takes the mound for the Tigers. Jon Lester, who allowed just one run in Game 1, gets the call for the Sox.

The big news for the Sox is the insertion of 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts at third base. Bogaerts replaces Will Middlebrooks, who is hitting just .100 in this series and has just 1 RBI in the postseason. Stephen Drew, who has played steady defense at shortstop despite significant struggles at the plate, remains in the lineup.

Red Sox manager John Farrell hinted last night that Bogaerts, who doubled in the ninth inning off Joaquin Benoit Wednesday night, would get a chance in Game 5. Thursday afternoon, he confirmed it while explaining why.

"We talked about last night the need for the potential for increased production from the left side of the infield,'' Farrell said. "And then the brief number of at‑bats that Xander has had for us, he's been very much under control, puts a good swing on the ball last night against Benoit, has not expanded the strike zone. And I think more than anything just the maturity that he shows and the offensive potential that he has, I felt like it was time to make a change."

Farrell suggested that Sanchez, with his vicious slider, isn't the best matchup for Middlebrooks.

"The one thing over ‑‑ from time to time in these two series, he's been a little susceptible to off‑speed and certainly some breaking balls that have run away from him.'' Farrell said. "I wouldn't expect him to be pleased with not being in the lineup today. That's just who he is.

"But for us to continue through this series and advance it's going to take everyone on our roster to contribute in some form or fashion, and I would expect that Will would find his way back in the field in these remaining games, particularly in this series."

Jack Morris threw out the first pitch, and we're ready to go.

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