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ALCS | Game 5: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3

ALCS: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3 — BoSox a win from pennant after beating Tigers

By Noah Trister
Associated Press

DETROIT: Mike Napoli’s majestic homer began a rare early Boston breakthrough, Junichi Tazawa again bested Miguel Cabrera in a crucial spot and the Red Sox moved within one win of reaching the World Series by edging the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Thursday night.

Boston returns to Fenway Park with a 3-2 lead in the AL championship series. Game 6 is Saturday with the Tigers’ Max Scherzer facing the Red Sox’s Clay Buchholz.

Cabrera was thrown out at the plate in the first inning, halting an early Detroit rally, and he hit into a double play against Tazawa with runners at the corners in the seventh. The Tigers scored a run on the grounder, but it was a trade-off the Red Sox were willing to make.

Napoli led off a three-run second with a drive off Anibal Sanchez into the ivy beyond the wall in center field.

Detroit’s starters had allowed only three runs in 27 innings through the first four games of the series. After pitching six no-hit innings in Game 1, Sanchez allowed four — three earned — in six innings Thursday.

Jon Lester allowed two runs and seven hits in 5⅓ innings Thursday. The Boston bullpen held on to finish off the fourth game of the series to be decided by one run.

“There’s probably a reason I don’t have any hair,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Perdroia said. “It’s stressful.”

Down 4-2 in the seventh, the Tigers put runners on first and third with nobody out when Jose Iglesias and Torii Hunter singled. Cabrera hit a soft grounder to second for a double play this time.

That was Detroit’s last stand in this one. Craig Breslow retired slumping Prince Fielder to end the seventh and got the first out of the eighth. Then Koji Uehara got five consecutive outs for the save.

Now Detroit turns to Scherzer, a 21-game winner, to try to extend the season. The Tigers will have Justin Verlander ready to pitch Game 7 if there is one.

Detroit might be without catcher Alex Avila in Boston due to a strained left knee.

Boston led in only four of 36 innings in the first four games, but the Red Sox won two of them. They struck early in Game 5 when Napoli’s drive easily cleared the 420-foot marker in center and landed in the ivy above two rows of bushes. That was the start of a three-run second inning, and it was Napoli’s second big homer of the series. His solo shot accounted for the only run of Game 3.

Detroit revamped its lineup before its Game 4 win — dropping Austin Jackson from the leadoff spot to eighth and moving almost everyone else up a place. The Tigers went with that same general framework Thursday, but it was Boston manager John Farrell’s adjustments that paid off.

After Napoli’s homer, Jonny Gomes — starting in left field — reached on an error by Cabrera at third base. One out later, 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts — starting at third — hit a double. David Ross, catching instead of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, doubled and Jacoby Ellsbury’s infield single made it 3-0.


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