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Scherzer helps Tigers avoid sweep at Boston

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- Max Scherzer came into Thursday night's start at Fenway Park with an 0-2 record and 11.81 ERA against the Red Sox in his young career. Only four games, but back in the first series of the season, Boston got the Detroit Tigers right-hander for seven runs and eight hits in just 2 2/3 innings.

That changed Thursday night when Scherzer pitched six innings in helping the Tigers avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox with a 7-3 win.

"It's good because the team needed a win," Scherzer said after his third consecutive victory raised his record to 5-3. "Obviously we didn't want to get swept today.

"I went in with the confidence I was going to have a good outing today. I know some of their hitters are swinging the bat pretty well, but I wanted to come out there and be better than them tonight."

Scherzer, who had struck out 24 over his previous two starts, slogged through the first three innings, giving up three runs and also losing his catcher -- Alex Avila leaving the game in the second inning after taking a foul tip off the mask. But when Mike Aviles reached on an infield hit to start the fourth, that was Boston's last hit of the night.

Scherzer retired his last nine hitters, and three relievers worked a hitless three innings. The Tigers, on the road for 19 of their past 24 games, finished a 10-game road trip with a 4-6 mark. Detroit (24-27) goes home to face the Yankees.

The Red Sox (26-25) loaded their lineup with seven lefties against Scherzer, who struggles against lefty swingers. He allowed five hits and a walk by lefties in the first three innings. There was nothing after that, as he outpitched Josh Beckett (4-5).

Quintin Berry, a 27-year-old rookie, starred offensively and defensively for the Tigers. Playing in only his ninth major league game, had three hits, two stolen bases, two runs and an RBI. He also made a fine running catch to haul down a Daniel Nava drive in the seventh inning to keep the tying run from scoring. Berry struck out nine times in the first three games of the series, but didn't fan in five at-bats Thursday.

Delmon Young hit a solo homer in the eighth and singled home a run in the ninth. Prince Fielder (two RBI) tripled home a run in the ninth -- his 10th career triple, first in the American League. Miguel Cabrera had two hits, giving him six in the past two games. He knocked in a run and stole a base.

Beckett was 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA over his previous three starts, but he gave up four runs in seven innings. He was hammered for five homers in his April 7 start in Detroit (a 10-0 loss) and was much better in this one; but he still yielded four runs in seven innings and finished with a 4.26 ERA.

"A real competitive, battling outing," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said of Beckett. "He gave us a chance to win the game. I don't know that that was his best stuff. It seemed like he didn't have his curveball until the sixth inning.

"He made some pretty good pitches, and they hit a few of them for hits. He did a good job of keeping them at bay."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered and also had an RBI single for the Red Sox, but the catcher also had two throwing errors, coming on two of the three Detroit steals.

The Tigers lost first base coach Tom Brookens and Avila in the first three innings. Brookens was ejected before the start of the second by first base umpire Jeff Nelson; Brookens still upset over Nelson calling Brennan Boesch out in the first inning.

Then, with two outs in the Boston third, Avila took the Sweeney foul tip on the mask, sustaining a cut on the bridge of his nose that forced him out of the games. He was examined by a doctor and showed no symptoms of a concussion.

When he got back to the dugout, he was teased by Leyland, who held up five fingers and asked Avila how many. When Avila said, "Five," Leyland said, "No, four and a thumb."

NOTES: The Tigers swept three games from Boston to start the season. ... An MRI on the left side of disabled Detroit righty Doug Fister showed no new damage, and there was optimism he won't miss the month he missed the first time he went down. However, the Tigers have vowed to be cautious. ... Lefty Casey Crosby, called up to replace Fister, starts against the Yankees and CC Sabathia in Detroit on Friday night. The Red Sox will send Clay Buchholz to the mound in Toronto, facing Henderson Alvarez. ... Still no Red Sox move on Dustin Pedroia, who hopes to avoid the disabled list with his thumb injury, as Boston again played a man short. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who didn't play, took grounders at shortstop and would have been used there in an emergency. Middlebrooks' homer Wednesday night took 2.84 seconds to get over the left field wall, the fastest home run in the major leagues this season, according to ESPN. Middlebrooks is the fourth Red Sox player since 1918 to hit six homers in his first 24 big league games. ... Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed a run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday.
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