Tigers-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

Judging by their recent results in Boston, a visit to Fenway Park wouldn't appear to help the Detroit Tigers in their quest to return to first place in the AL Central.

The Tigers, though, will have Max Scherzer on the mound for Monday night's series opener against the Boston Red Sox, who will seek their first three-game win streak in nearly six weeks.

As it enters the final series of a nine-game trip, Detroit (54-48) trails Chicago by 1 1/2 games in the Central and is heading to a ballpark where it's lost seven of eight.

The Tigers dropped the first three games during their most recent visit at the end of May before Scherzer (10-5, 4.49 ERA) helped them earn a 7-3 victory in the series finale.

The right-hander heads into this series 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA over his last seven starts and won his fourth consecutive decision Wednesday in Cleveland. He allowed two runs over seven innings and struck out eight to remain among the AL leaders with 142.

Scherzer is on pace to shatter his career high of 184 strikeouts from 2010, his first season in Detroit.

"Max's ceiling is very high," manager Jim Leyland said. "He has a chance to get better and better."

Scherzer might have to outduel Clay Buchholz (8-3, 4.93), who has allowed one run in each of his last two starts. The right-hander, though, hasn't benefited from those efforts as the Red Sox (51-51) have given him a combined one run of support.

Buchholz got that lone run Tuesday in Texas and exited after seven innings with the score tied. The Red Sox went on to win 2-1 on Mike Aviles' single in the ninth.

"The only thing I wish was that we could've given him the win," Aviles told the team's official website. "The effort he gave us was tremendous."

With Buchholz's help, Boston will try to earn three straight victories for the first time since a five-game run June 16-21. The Red Sox took the final two games at rival New York this weekend, winning 3-2 in 10 innings Sunday night.

No. 9 hitter Pedro Ciriaco, batting .349 in 18 games this season, singled in the winning run and No. 8 hitter Ryan Sweeney had a two-run double.

"We're trying to win series now," manager Bobby Valentine said. "We did it the hard way. After losing the first, we battled in two tough games. I'm proud of the guys. That's a great effort."

Detroit will attempt to build on its second victory in six games, a 4-1 win over Toronto on Sunday that featured two homers from Jhonny Peralta. The shortstop was 0 for 17 over his previous five games.

The Tigers didn't hit a home run off Buchholz during a 13-12 home victory April 8, but they did tag him for seven runs over four innings. He was 1-1 with a 2.58 ERA over his previous six matchups.

Scherzer allowed three runs over six innings during his start at Fenway in May. He was 0-2 with an 11.81 over his previous four matchups and gave up seven runs in 2 2-3 innings to the Red Sox on April 8.

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