Red Sox hang on to beat Tigers for 3-2 ALCS advantage
DETROIT - A botched double-play ball by Dustin Pedroia helped swing Game 4 of the ALCS Detroit's way. But the Red Sox had no such fielding issues Thursday night in Game 5, turning three crucial double plays in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers in front of 42,669 chilled fans at Comerica Park.
Boston took a 3-2 series lead and will have two shots to win the AL pennant at Fenway Park, starting Saturday night. Four of the first five games in the series have been decided by one run, including all three Red Sox wins.
The consolation for the Tigers, who fell behind 4-0 in the third inning, is that they have two of the best pitchers in the league lined up: Max Scherzer in Game 6 and, if necessary, Justin Verlander in Game 7.
Like Tigers manager Jim Leyland in Game 4, John Farrell tweaked his lineup in Game 5, benching the struggling Will Middlebrooks at third in favor of 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts contributed a double in Boston's three-run second against Anibal Sanchez, who could not duplicate his six-inning, no-hit performance from Game 1. He allowed four runs (three earned) and nine hits in six innings.
Jon Lester allowed two runs and seven hits in 51/3 innings and three relievers took it from there. He said of being taken out, "At the moment, you're not happy with it . . . but once you're in the dugout, you cheer your butt off.''
"Lester didn't have his best stuf tonight, but he battled," catcher David Ross said.
Koji Uehara came on with one out in the eighth to record a five-out save. "He's been a stud for us all year," Ross said. "He's our horse in the back end of that thing."
The Tigers ran themselves out of the inning in the first. Miguel Cabrera walked with one out and moved to second on Prince Fielder's single up the middle. Then, with two outs, Jhonny Peralta singled to left. For some reason, third-base coach Tom Brookens initially waved home Cabrera, hobbled much of the second half with groin and hamstring injuries, before throwing up a late stop sign. Cabrera ran through it and was thrown out by several feet by leftfielder Jonny Gomes.
"In this particular case, you pretty much have to hold him up right away," Leyland said. "He probably made a mistake . . . He just held him too late."
With runners on first and third and none out in the seventh, Cabrera again failed to solve Junichi Tazawa, hitting into a double play, although a run scored to bring the Tigers within 4-3. Cabrera had struck out against Tazawa with runners on first and third and one out in the eighth inning of Boston's 1-0 Game 3 victory.
Detroit's starters had allowed only three runs in 27 innings through the first four games of the series, but Mike Napoli -- whose solo homer gave the Red Sox the Game 3 victory -- got his team on the board in the second. He hammered Sanchez's 3-and-1 fastball about 450 feet over the centerfield fence and into the ivy.
Said Red Sox manager John Farrell, "He's got tremendous power. He's in one of those streaks right now. He has the ability to carry us.''
Ross' RBI double and Jacoby Ellsbury's infield hit made it 3-0. The Tigers kept it there when, on Shane Victorino's grounder to Omar Infante, Ross was thrown out at the plate. He plowed into catcher Alex Avila, who held on to the ball and received a respectful pat on the back from Ross. Avila left the game in the fifth with a patella tendon strain in his left knee. Leyland said Avila's knee looked "pretty bad'' but didn't have enough information to rule him out for Game 6.
Boston made it 4-0 in the third when Napoli doubled with one out, reached third on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch.
Cabrera had an RBI single in the fifth and Brayan Peña had an RBI single in the sixth.