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Scherzer improves to 11-0 for Tigers

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Max Scherzer is closing in on some big numbers.

Not the least of which is cashing in on his success with a large multi-year contract when or before he becomes a free agent following the 2014 season.

Scherzer reached some milestones Saturday night when he shrugged off some early struggles and, with the help of a first-inning grand slam by Victor Martinez, improved to a club-record-tying 11-0 when the Detroit Tigers defeated the Boston Red Sox 10-3.

It's the best start by a pitcher in the majors since Roger Clemens went 11-0 for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997, and it matched the best beginning to a season by a Tigers pitcher, George Mullin's 11-0 in 1909.

Scherzer also fanned six, a figure he has reached in all 15 of his starts this season. The only other pitcher in American League history to whiff at least six in each of his first 15 starts to begin a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez, who did it in 1999 and then nearly doubled it the next year with six or more strikeouts in each of his first 29 starts.

"You can't get too caught up your won-lost record," Scherzer said. "Quirky things happen in baseball. Our offense has picked me up more than once."

Detroit's offense picked him up in the first inning after Boston scored twice on three hits in its half of the inning. The Red Sox also stung some balls while Scherzer was retiring nine in a row after David Ortiz hit his 16th home run with two out in the first. But he settled in and gave up just three hits over the next six innings after the first. He didn't walk a batter.

"He throws two or three different types of fastballs," Boston manager John Farrell said, "so he doesn't overexert himself."

Two singles to open the game put runners at first and third and Boston took a 1-0 lead on a double play grounder. Then Ortiz hit his home run but Scherzer fanned Mike Carp to end the inning.

The Tigers bounced back with Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter getting singles and Miguel Cabrera walking on four pitches to load the bases against the just-called-up Allen Webster (0-2), who showed a nice changeup but also demonstrated he needs to get a better feel for when to go off-speed.

Martinez unloaded on an 0-1 fastball for his sixth home run this season and third grand slam of his career to put the Tigers ahead for good.

"That four-run give-back in the first inning set the tone for the rest of the game," Farrell said. "He had a better mix of secondary stuff than he did (in his other two starts early in the season). He settled down after the first and pitched decent ball.

"He made the pitch down to Martinez and he just went down and got it. I think he's going to be a very good pitcher."

"I'm just happy to get a win," Martinez said. "I've hit some good balls that just got caught. But that's baseball."

"That grand slam set the tone," Hunter said.

Andy Dirks singled in the fourth, stole second and scored on Jackson's two-out line single to center, making it 5-2.

Lefty Franklin Morales took over for Webster after the first out of the fifth and walked lefty-hitting Prince Fielder, then gave up an RBI double to Martinez, his fifth RBI of the night. Jhonny Peralta singled Martinez home to increase Detroit's lead to 7-2.

Farrell said Morales might be headed for the disabled list after straining his left shoulder during his 2 1/3-inning outing. More examination was set for Sunday.

Fielder grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth to improve the Tigers' lead to 10-2. Omar Infante had made it 9-2 in the seventh by hitting his fifth home run, which came two outs after Martinez walked.

Al Alburquerque took over for Scherzer in the eighth and gave up a walk and a single right away. However, he retired the next three.

Luke Putkonen worked the ninth for Detroit, allowing a run on three singles, the last of which by Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in Boston's third run.

Victorino continued his running battle with Cabrera. The Detroit slugger lined a single to right and the Boston right fielder came up throwing, missing getting Cabrera out by a step.

The two traded grins and barbs for the next few moments, as they had when Cabrera singled sharply to right in the seventh inning Friday night and Victorino narrowly missed throwing him out at first.

Hunter cracked Victorino up in the ninth when he faked trying to throw Ortiz out at first on a line single to right.

NOTES: Ortiz's first-inning home run was his second of the series and 18th of his career in Comerica Park, most of any visiting player Detroit's home field. ... RHP Jonathon Crawford, Detroit's No. 1 draft choice, made his pro debut Friday night. He pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three, for short-season Connecticut of the NYP League. ... Boston optioned RHP Pedro Beato to Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night to make room for Webster, called up to pitch Saturday. Beato pitched in two games for Boston, allowing two hits but no runs in two innings. ... Tigers C Alex Avila is scheduled to join Triple-A Toledo on Sunday to begin a rehab assignment of undetermined length. Avila has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a deep bruise just above his left wrist. ... RHP Clay Buchholz of Boston will miss his scheduled return to the rotation Tuesday after missing a bullpen session Saturday. "Tuesday is very unlikely. As of right now," Farrell said, "he's not going Tuesday. At some point he's probably going to have to get out on a rehab." Buchholz has been disabled since June 9 with a neck strain. "It's on his deceleration, his follow-through, that's when he feels restriction," Farrell said. Buchholz will get more treatment until Monday." ... Jackson returned to Detroit's starting lineup Saturday night after missing a game with soreness in his left hamstring. "I hope it's not something that lingers," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'll play it accordingly."
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