Detroit (AFP) – Mike Napoli’s seventh-inning solo homer off Detroit ace Justin Verlander was the only run Boston needed to beat the Tigers 1-0 Tuesday and edge ahead in the American League Championship Series.
John Lackey and the Boston bullpen made the run stand up and the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven set that will send the winners to Major League Baseball’s championship World Series.
Detroit will try to get back on even terms when they host game four on Wednesday. Detroit will send Doug Fister to the mound and the Red Sox will give the ball to Jake Peavy.
Boston managed only four hits and struck out 10 times in eight innings against Verlander, but shut down the potent Tigers lineup.
Detroit sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both struck out with runners at first and third in the eighth inning.
The Tigers went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, in a game that was delayed for 17 minutes in the second inning because a power problem that saw the floodlights go out.
Lackey was superb in his 6 2/3 innings. He surrendered four hits and struck out eight without a walk.
“He just never gave in,” said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia of Lackey. “He got in some situations, first and third, and never gave in, never wanted to leave anything over the plate. Some big at-bats we were able to keep in our favor.”
Three Red Sox relievers finished the shutout, with Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara getting the last four outs for the save.
Verlander kept Boston’s bats at bay through the first six innings, giving up just two hits and a walk.