The Detroit Tigers appear to be in good shape to extend their home winning streak over the Boston Red Sox considering Jon Lester's recent struggles and his history in the series.
Coming off a dramatic victory, the Tigers look to beat Lester again and win a sixth straight home game over the Red Sox on Friday night.
Detroit (40-31) was on the verge of losing its third in a row in Thursday's series opener, trailing 3-2 heading into the ninth inning. Victor Martinez started the rally by drawing a leadoff walk off Andrew Bailey, and Jhonny Peralta followed with a homer to give the Tigers a 4-3 win.
"I see everybody at home plate, it's a good feeling, hitting a walkoff home run," Peralta said. "It's the best that I can feel."
It was the third blown save in the last five appearances for Bailey, and Red Sox manager John Farrell said he would be given a break from closing.
"We're going to back him out of there right now and try to get him fixed, so we'll look at some other internal options to close," Farrell said.
The Tigers, owners of the AL's best home record at 24-12, won their fifth straight over Boston (44-31) in Detroit - their longest such streak in the series since reeling off six in a row from 1991-92.
Peralta has played a big role in that success, batting .400 with two homers, three doubles and eight RBIs in his last seven home games against the Red Sox. He's hitting .433 with eight doubles in 16 home games overall since May 13.
While Peralta is 4 for 7 with two homers against Lester (6-4, 4.37 ERA) over the past three-plus years, Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter and Martinez have feasted on his pitching throughout their careers. Cabrera is 8 for 14 with two doubles and four walks, Hunter is 8 for 16 with a pair of doubles and Martinez is 5 for 8 with a home run and a triple.
Given those numbers, it might not be a surprise that Lester is 0-2 with a 4.78 ERA in five career starts against Detroit. It's the only AL team he has not beaten excluding Boston and Junior Circuit newcomer Houston.
Lester is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts since beating Tampa Bay on May 15. He gave up five runs and nine hits while striking out eight in five innings in Sunday's 6-3 loss to Baltimore.
"It was a lot better than the linescore as far as the ball came out of my hand," the left-hander said.
Although he sounded like he was in denial, Lester did display better command by walking none. That came five days after he issued a career-high seven walks over 4 2-3 innings in a loss to the Rays.
The Tigers counter with Doug Fister (6-4, 3.21), who lost his no-hit bid Sunday against Minnesota in the sixth inning. He ended up allowing two runs and two hits before leaving with two outs in the eighth in a 5-2 win. It was the first victory since May 14 for the right-hander, who had been 0-3 in his previous four starts despite a 2.67 ERA.
Fister's no-hitter was broken up by a homer - just the third he's surrendered this season. He has allowed the fewest home runs by anyone with at least 90 innings pitched.
David Ortiz hit his 15th home run and drove in the tiebreaking run with an eighth-inning single Thursday. The slugger is 5 for 16 with two doubles and five strikeouts lifetime against Fister.