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Jon Lester, Koji Uehara Lift Red Sox to 3-2 Edge Over Tigers in ALCS

Koji Uehara (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

Koji Uehara retired the final five batters for his second save of the series and Jon Lester got his second win in three postseason starts as the Boston Red Sox won a 4-3 nail biter over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.  Lester allowed two runs in 5.1 innings of work, walking three and allowing seven hits in the victory.

Anibal Sanchez allowed a single after two outs in the first, after no-hitting the Red Sox for six innings in the first game. He finished after six innings, striking out five and allowing all four Red Sox runs, though only three were earned. He also gave up nine hits.

Mike Napoli started off the scoring for the Red Sox as he hit a 460-foot blast to straightaway center to put the Red Sox up 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning. The Red Sox would tack on a couple more runs after a Xander Bogaerts double put runners on second and third with one out in the frame. David Ross would plate Jonny Gomes with a RBI double and an infield hit would score Bogaerts from third to put the Red Sox up 3-0.

In the third, Napoli would score on a wild pitch from Anibal Sanchez for the final Red Sox run and a 4-0 lead. Napoli finished the day 3-for-4, just a triple short of the cycle.

Lester was working in and out of jams most of the night and didn’t allow the Tigers to score until the fifth inning. With runners on first and second and one down in the fourth, Brayan Pena was ahead 3-1 before Lester forced him to ground back to the mound. He threw wide to second, but Stephen Drew made a nice play to turn a double play and get out of the inning unscathed. Pena came on in the inning to replace the injured Alex Avila.

In the fifth, Lester made another great play in the field as Jose Iglesias bunted to move Austin Jackson to second. Lester fumbled the ball with his glove, but was able to get the former Red Sox shortstop with a desperate shovel pass with his glove on his second attempt. Jackson would later score in the inning on a single from Miguel Cabrera.

Lester would leave in the sixth after leading off the inning walking Victor Martinez and, after getting Jhonny Peralta to strike out, Omar Infante singled to center right out of the reach of Jacoby Ellsbury. Junichi Tazawa allowed Pena to single to make it 4-2 before Jackson grounded into the 5-4-3 double play to get out of the jam.

The Tigers would score one more time in the seventh after Iglesias and Torii Hunter put runners on first and third with back-to-back singles. Miguel Cabrera came up and hit into the 4-6-3 double play that scored Iglesias from third. The Tigers finished 3-of-9 with runners in scoring position compared to 2-for-9 for the Red Sox.

Craig Breslow came in and got Prince Fielder to ground to second and would get Martinez to do the same in the eighth before Uehara was called on for five outs.

The Red Sox had a chance in the ninth to tack on at least one run as Bogaerts got on with a walk to leadoff the inning. Will Middlebrooks pinch ran for the 21-year-old and was able to make it to third on a bunt from Ross with some heads up base running for the second-year player. After an intentional walk to Ellsbury, Al Alburquerque retired Shane Victorino on strikes and got Dustin Pedroia to fly to center.

Uehara struck out two batters in his 1.2 innings of work to shutdown the Tigers. He threw 27 pitches and nine of those came to the first batter, Peralta, who struck out.

The Red Sox will look to seal the series as Clay Buchholz, who gave up five runs in Game 2, will face Max Scherzer on Saturday in Game 6. If necessary, Justin Verlander and John Lackey will pitch Sunday in Game 7.

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