BOSTON -- Right-hander Rick Porcello made perhaps the most impressive road start of his career and put the Detroit Tigers on the brink of doing something they haven't done in 31 years: sweep a series in Fenway Park.
Porcello allowed one run in eight innings, and the Tigers beat the Red Sox, 6-1, on Saturday night. Porcello (7-1) established the longest winning streak of his career by winning his sixth straight start.
"Rick has been outstanding," manager Brad Ausmus said.
The Tigers haven't won every game in a series in Boston since they swept a four-game series in 1983. There have been times since then that they won three straight games in a series in Boston, but those instances came in four-game series in which they lost the first or last game.
Anibal Sanchez will try to get them the sweep as he returns from a three-week stay on the disabled list due to a blister. He will oppose veteran right-hander Jake Peavy, whom manager John Farrell moved up in the rotation so the Tigers wouldn't face left-hander Felix Doubront. The Tigers are10 -2 against left-handed starters.
But their heavily right-handed lineup battered John Lackey for all their runs with five doubles and a homer by Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers rendered moot Ausmus' decision to give closer Joe Nathan the day off after he'd pitched in (and saved) four of the last five games. Phil Coke pitched a scoreless ninth.
Porcello has gone eight innings on the road several times, but never in such a famously difficult venue and never against the defending world champions.
"Every year he's getting better," Cabrera said of the 25-year-old Porcello. "He knows what he's doing. He pitched a very strong eight innings."
The Tigers raised their best-in-baseball record to 26-12, and they won their 10th straight game on the road.
Cabrera gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead in the third with perhaps the shortest homer of his career. On an 0-2 pitch with the bases empty, he hit a fly ball just past the foul right-field foul pole, which stands a mere 302 feet from home plate.
The Red Sox had their first threat in the fourth. Porcello had to retire A.J. Pierzynski with two out and the bases loaded.
In the next half inning, the Tigers doubled their lead to 4-0 on doubles by Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter and Cabrera's single.
Xander Bogaerts gave Boston its first run of the series when he led off the fifth with a homer over the 37-ft. wall in left. Two outs later, the Sox had a runner on first as David Ortiz batted. A homer would have made it a one-run game. Porcello fanned Ortiz on a check-swing on a full count. It was Boston's last look at the game.
In the next half-inning, the Tigers put up their second straight two-run inning. Again, the first run came on a pair of doubles, the first by the lefty-swinging Alex Avila in a triumph over the shift: a grounder inside third with the third-base position vacated and the infield loaded up to the right. Avila scored on a one-out double by Rajai Davis.
Right-hander Edward Mujica relieved Lackey and, before making his first pitch, made three pickoff throws to second to try to nab Davis, who began the game tied for the AL lead in steals with 14. Mujica finally threw a pitch to Kinsler, then heaved his fourth pickoff attempt into center. Davis went to third and scored an unearned run on Kinsler's fly ball. It was 6-1.
Ausmus said he'd never seen a pitcher make three straight pickoff throws to second. Now, in his first visit to Boston as manager, he might get to see the rarity of a Tigers sweep.
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