In an intense pitchers’ duel, the Boston Red Sox edged the Detroit Tigers in Game Three at Comerica Park on Tuesday to take the series lead in the American League Champions with a 1-0 win.
The score remained scoreless until the top of the seventh inning. On a full count, first baseman Mike Napoli crushed a 96-mile-per-hour fastball to left-centerfield for a solo home run off Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
That was all Boston would need, as John Farrell’s pitching staff combined to shut out the Tigers off six hits and two walks. The Detroit bats struck out 12 times.
It was an otherwise excellent outing for Verlander, who allowed just four hits and one walk, while striking out 10. At the end of the third inning, he tied a postseason record for most consecutive strikeouts with six. Verlander had not allowed a run in his previous 44 1/3 innings.
The Red Sox had failed to get a hit off Verlander until the fifth inning.
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Boston starter John Lackey shut out the Tigers for 6 2/3 innings, and allowed just four hits without a walk. The 34-year-old struck out eight batters in an exceptional effort.
“He just never gave in,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, of Lackey’s performance.
“He’s going to compete whether he’s got something or doesn’t.”
The Tigers had an excellent chance to score late in the game. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Austin Jackson drew a one-out walk, and then advanced to third off a single from Torii Hunter. But Junichi Tazawa was able to strike out superstar slugger Miguel Cabrera. Closer Koji Uehara would relieve Tazawa and strike out clean-up hitter Prince Fielder.
Uehara returned for the ninth inning to earn the save.
In a bizarre twist, Game Three was delayed for 17 minutes in the 2nd inning due to a power outage.
Game Four of the best-of-seven series is on Wednesday at Comerica Park. The Red Sox send Jake Peavy to the mound, while the Tigers go with Doug Fister.
An IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.