Max Scherzer had the help of Miguel Cabrera, among others, in his last start as the Detroit Tigers' offense kept alive his bid to become the second pitcher in history to win 20 of his first 21 decisions in a season.
It's unclear if he'll have that kind of support this time around, as Cabrera's status remains uncertain for Scherzer's second chance to become the first 20-game winner in the majors Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox.
Scherzer (19-1, 2.90 ERA) is looking to join Roger Clemens in 2001 as the only pitchers to begin a season 20-1. He went 6-0 with a 1.48 ERA in his previous seven starts before allowing six runs - five earned - in five innings Thursday.
The Tigers, though, scored four times in the bottom of the ninth, capped by Torii Hunter's three-run homer, for a 7-6 win over Oakland that got the right-hander off the hook.
"He still can go 20-1,'' Hunter said. "He was jumping up and down when I came upstairs. He hugged me so tight I couldn't breathe. I'm pretty sure he's excited.''
Cabrera went 2 for 3 in that contest before leaving with an abdominal strain. He had one at-bat in Friday's 7-2 win over Cleveland before exiting, and he's sat out the last three games while also battling a groin injury.
Prince Fielder moved up to the No. 3 spot in the lineup Monday and drove in a run as the AL Central-leading Tigers (81-57) beat Boston 3-0 in the series opener, their fourth win in five contests.
"I feel better,'' Cabrera said after taking batting practice prior to the game.
Scherzer could be in good shape with or without Cabrera as he's 11-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last 19 road starts, including one in the playoffs.
He went 1-3 with a 9.21 ERA in his previous six starts against Boston before allowing two runs, including a solo homer to David Ortiz, in seven innings of a 10-3 home victory June 22.
Ortiz, 0 for 4 on Monday, is 7 for 13 with three homers and a double off Scherzer.
Jon Lester (12-8, 3.99) has gone 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA over his last five starts, though he allowed three runs and three walks in six innings of a 3-2 home loss to Baltimore on Thursday.
The left-hander is 2-1 with a 4.74 ERA in seven home starts.
"What (his lack of command) did was it cut his night short," manager John Farrell said. "He's been on a good run here."
Lester has gone 1-2 with a 5.26 ERA in six career starts against Detroit. He gave up five runs - three on a homer to Cabrera - in a 10-6 victory June 21.
Cabrera is 10 for 16 with a home run, two doubles, five walks and no strikeouts off Lester, while Hunter is 10 for 19 with three doubles against him.
The Red Sox (82-57) had won seven of eight prior to Monday. Daniel Nava went 3 for 3 for Boston.
Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias, acquired from Boston in the three-team trade that brought Jake Peavy to the Red Sox, went 1 for 3 with a double Monday in his first game against his former team. Iglesias has gone 6 for 13 during a four-game hitting streak.