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Needing a win to help the Red Sox keep pace with the Rays in the Wild Card chase (at least the Rays beat the Yankees), Jon Lester came up limp. Lester tossed six innings, but he struggled to get through them, allowing 11 hits and two walks along with four runs. On the bright side, Lester struck out seven Tigers, marking the ninth straight start he tallied at least six K’s.
Most of the serious damage against Lester came off the bat of Jhonny Peralta, who was making his Tigers debut. Peralta, who entered the game 2-15 with two singles off the Sox lefty, launched two home runs as part of a 3-4 effort with 3 RBI. His homer in the 2nd made it 2-0, and his second homer of the game in the 5th made it 4-0.
The Red Sox slowly clawed back, however. Marco Scutaro continued his power surge by sending his seventh home run into orbit, and knocking down the Tigers lead to 4-1 in the process. Scutaro finished 2-4 on the night.
The Tigers grabbed two more runs in the eighth inning off Tim Wakefield in typical fashion. Wake walked Jeff Frazier to begin the inning. Gerald Laird reached on a bunt single, and the runners moved to 2nd and 3rd with one out after a sacrifice from Danny Worth. Wake then threw a wild pitch, alowing Frazier to score. Then, he allowed an RBI groundout to score Laird.
Jose Valverde entered the game in the eighth needing to record four outs to preserve the Detroit win. After recording one out to end the eighth, Valverde allowed three walks before facing David Ortiz with one out. One swing later, the Red Sox all of a sudden were only down 6-5 thanks t0 a clutch grand slam. Had the Tigers not scored twice in the top of the eighth, then the Red Sox woul have walked off.
Valverde labored through a career-high 60 pitches, and ended the game by getting Mike Cameron on a strikeout with two on. The Tigers took it to the Sox, winning 6-5.
He only went 1-4, but the one hit was the biggie, a grand slam with one out in the ninth to make it a game.
“It was a nice swing,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “Would have been nicer if it was a five-run homer.”
Big Papi now has 22 home runs on the season.
It was truly an inopportune time to have a bad inning, but at the time, no one knew that, not even Wakefield. Despite the comeback effort, Lester was saddled with the tough loss.
W: Robbie Weinhardt (1-1)
L: Jon Lester (11-6)