Lester struggles again, but finally beats Tigers

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


DETROIT -- Jon Lester said a thank you to his offense.
"It's been a while," said the Boston Red Sox lefty, who had never beaten the Detroit Tigers before and only had won once in his previous four starts. "Our offense did a great job of scoring runs."
Shane Victorino had a home run plus three singles in his first four at-bats Friday night and drove in four runs to lead the Red Sox to a 10-6 victory over the Tigers.
"He's still a work in progress," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Lester (7-4), who allowed four of his nine hits in Detroit's four-run fifth, an inning that featured two home runs, the second of which was Miguel Cabrera's 20th.
"The solo home run (Andy Dirks, his sixth, leading off the inning) was okay. I can live with that," Lester said. "(Brayan) Pena hit a blooper to right, I made a good pitch to (Torii) Hunter and he did a good job of hitting it (for a single).
"I threw maybe the best changeup I've ever thrown in my life to Cabrera. But he's in a higher league. I wish he'd quit and go to another league. I thought he hit it off the end of the bat and (he pulled it to left-center)."
"Outside of that first-pitch changeup to Cabrera," Farrell said, "he did some good things. He got a win out there."
The four-run inning shaved Boston's lead to 6-5 but the Red Sox added one in the sixth, two in the eighth and an unearned run in the ninth to pull away.
Lester allowed nine hits in 5 2/3 innings but got quality relief from Junichi Tazawa (two outs), Craig Breslow (five outs) and Andrew Miller, who gave up a run in the ninth.
Doug Fister (6-5) gave up 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings for the Tigers and also was tagged for a four-run inning, the fourth. He walked one but didn't strike anybody out, an indicator his stuff didn't have the sharp movement it normally does.
"He wasn't at his sharpest," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "But he also didn't pitch in very good luck.
"I felt like we got back in the game and we had a good approach against Lester. But those add-on runs are the kiss of death. We couldn't stop the bleeding and never got over the hump offensively."
Reliever Phil Coke, who had worked a 1-2-3 seventh, walked the first batter of the eighth and gave up Stephen Drew's ground-rule double into the right-field corner before being relieved by newly recalled Al Alburquerque. A run scored on Victorino's slow chopper to short, with the runner judged to have beaten the throw to the plate.
Alburquerque got a popup from Dustin Pedrioa, but a second run scored on a wild pitch that kicked off to catcher Pena's right.
Drew singled with two out in the ninth and came all the way in when center fielder Avisail Garcia let Jose Iglesias' single get by him for an error.
Neither team got to test the new closer each had installed Thursday.
Hunter walked with one out against Miller in the ninth, went to third on a single through third by Cabrera and scored on Prince Fielder's fielder's choice grounder to second.
Iglesias tripled with one out in the sixth and scored on a two-out single by Victorino to make it 7-5.
Cabrera's home run in the fifth was a three-run shot that boosted his RBI total to 74. He's the first Tiger to reach 20 home runs in the team's first 70 games since 3B Dean Palmer in 1999. He also had three singles.
Dirks' home run was his sixth.
Jacoby Ellsbury had a two-run double in the fourth followed by Victorino's two-run single. A single by Pedroia drove out Fister.
Victorino's third home run, as the second batter of the game, plus an RBI groundout in the third by Pedroia brought in Boston's first two runs. Detroit scored in the second on singles by Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Pena.
Detroit right fielder Hunter deked Mike Napoli into a double play after the Boston first baseman had singled to start the fifth. Hunter faked losing track of Daniel Nava's high fly to right, holding his hands away from his sides and shaking his head as if to say he'd lost the ball. But Hunter quickly snatched the fly and threw to first to double off the retreating Napoli.
NOTES: Boston RHP Koji Uehara, 38, has replaced struggling RHP Andrew Bailey as the Red Sox's closer. "Koji has done it before," Farrell said. "We have to be aware of where he is in his career. There are some health things to monitor." Uehara saved 13 games for Baltimore in 2010 and 32 while pitching in his native Japan in 2007. Bailey "needs to back out and get some appearances and get some momentum going," Farrell said. ... Detroit designated deposed closer RHP Jose Valverde for assignment and brought Alburquerque back from the minors to replace him on the roster. The Tigers asked Valverde if he'd be willing to go to Toledo to work on his issues, but didn't get an answer. "I hope he stays (in the organization)," Leyland said. "His velocity is good enough, his split-finger is inconsistent and his control is spotty." ... Red Sox C David Ross has been confirmed to have a concussion and will be shut down for the remainder of the month. "He'll get tested again the first week of July," Farrell said. "The thing we have to be cautious about is that this is his second concussion in a short period of time. We have to be extra cautious." Ross was placed on the seven-day disabled list effective June 18. He was also out with a concussion May 12, missing 11 games. ... LF Matt Tuiasosopo was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right side muscle that forced him out of Thursday night's starting lineup. Detroit brought OF Garcia back because it couldn't afford to have two unhealthy outfielders on the bench. CF Austin Jackson reported his left hamstring was bothering him again, did not play Friday and may miss Saturday as well.