Red Sox on brink of World Series return after win in Detroit
AFPDETROIT -- Mike Napoli homered and the Red Sox tagged Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez for four runs Thursday in a 4-3 win that put Boston on the brink of returning to baseball's World Series.
October 19, 2013, 12:42 am TWN
The victory gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, which shifts to Boston for game six on Saturday and game seven, if necessary, on Sunday.
The Red Sox are trying to get back to Major League Baseball's championship showcase for the first time since 2007, when they won their second World Series in four years.
The Tigers were swept by the San Francisco Giants last year in the Fall Classic.
Napoli smacked a towering solo homer over the center field wall in the second inning to give Boston a lead they never surrendered.
Napoli, who also hit the solo homer that was the only run of game three, also had a double and a single, and scored Boston's fourth run in the third inning on a wild pitch from Sanchez.
Boston's starting pitcher Jon Lester allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings and the Red Sox bullpen allowed just one run before Japanese closer Koji Uehara got the final five outs for his second save of the series.
“He's been a stud for us all year,” catcher David Ross said of Uehara. “He's our horse at the end of that thing.”
The Tigers lost catcher Alex Avila with what the team said was a left knee strain. Avila was hurt in a collision at the plate with Red Sox catcher David Ross in the second inning and was taken out after the fourth.
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, battling the nagging effects of a groin injury, cost Detroit a chance to score in the first inning when he ran through a stop sign from third base coach Tom Brookens and tried to score from second on Jhonny Peralta's two-out single to left field.
He was thrown out standing up by Jonny Gomes.
Napoli homered on a 3-1 fastball to lead off the second frame, sparking a three-run outburst by Boston.
Ross hit an RBI double off the bottom of the left field wall and Jacoby Ellsbury plated a run with a drive that was deflected on the mound by Sanchez.
Napoli hit a ground-rule double to left in the third, moved up on a ground out and scored on the wild pitch to give Boston a 4-0 lead.
Detroit chipped away with one run each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but couldn't get any closer.
It was the fourth game of the series to be decided by just one run.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said his team's task now was to focus on Saturday's game, and not worry about what might come after.
“We have to win one game, that's obvious,” Leyland said, “win one game and take it from there.”
However, he admitted before the game that a defeat could spell trouble for his team, with the last two games to be held at Boston's Fenway Park.
“They're pretty good there, obviously,” Leyland said.