Boston takes a 2-1 series lead over Detriot

Boston 1, Detroit 0

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DETROIT — Once again this October, one run was enough.

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Boston Red Sox's Mike Napoli hits a home run during Game 3 of the American League baseball championship series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. It was the second 1-0 final in the playoff series.   CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Boston Red Sox's Mike Napoli hits a home run during Game 3 of the American League baseball championship series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. It was the second 1-0 final in the playoff series.

John Lackey edged Justin Verlander in the latest duel of these pitching-rich playoffs, and Boston’s bullpen shut down Detroit’s big boppers with the game on the line to lift the Red Sox over the Tigers 1-0 Tuesday for a 2-1 lead in the AL championship series.

Mike Napoli homered off Verlander in the seventh inning, and Detroit’s best chance to rally fell short in the eighth when Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder struck out with runners at the corners.

“The runs are pretty stingy,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “This is what it’s about in postseason, is good pitching.”

Despite three consecutive gems by their starters, the Tigers suddenly trail in a best-of-seven series they seemed to control just two days ago.

Lackey allowed four hits in 6 ⅔ innings, striking out eight without a walk in a game that was delayed 17 minutes in the second inning because lights on the stadium towers went out.

“I think that little time off gave him a chance to slow down a little bit. He was excited and pumped that first inning,” Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “Kind of getting excited with his slider, throwing a little too hard and leaving it over the middle, but he was still pretty effective.”

It was the second 1-0 game in this matchup between the highest-scoring teams in the majors. That’s been the theme throughout these playoffs, which have included four 1-0 scores and seven shutouts in the first 26 games.

After rallying from a five-run deficit to even the series in Game 2, Boston came away with a win in Detroit against one of the game’s best pitchers. The Tigers had a chance for their own comeback in the eighth when Austin Jackson drew a one-out walk and Torii Hunter followed with a single.

But Cabrera, who failed to reach base for the first time in 32 postseason games for the Tigers, never looked comfortable against Junichi Tazawa, swinging and missing at the first two offerings and eventually chasing an outside pitch for strike three.

Fielder was even more overmatched against Koji Uehara, striking out on three pitches.

Uehara also pitched the ninth for a save, ensuring that Lackey’s fine performance wouldn’t go to waste.

Lackey pitched poorly his first two seasons in Boston after signing an $82.5 million, five-year contract in December 2009. Then he missed all of 2012 following elbow ligament-replacement surgery.

He’s been better this season, and he kept the Tigers off balance Tuesday by effectively changing speeds.

“He just never gave in,” Saltalamacchia said.

Napoli’s first at-bat in the majors was against Verlander on May 4, 2006, at Comerica Park. He homered then, too.

“He’s tough. He was on his game tonight. He was keeping all of us off balance,” said Napoli, who rubbed his bat on teammate Jonny Gomes’ beard before going up to the plate. “I got to a 3-2 count and put a good swing on a pitch, was able to drive it.”

In the last two games, the Tigers have started Verlander and 21-game winner Max Scherzer <0x2014> and the Red Sox won both.

Throw in Anibal Sanchez’s outstanding effort in the opener, when the Red Sox managed only a ninth-inning single in a 1-0 loss, and Detroit’s three starters in the ALCS have combined to allow two runs and six hits with 35 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Still, the Tigers have fallen behind because their bullpen blew a four-run lead late in Game 2 and the offense came up empty at home on Tuesday.

Detroit stranded runners on first and third in the first, then wasted Jhonny Peralta’s leadoff double in the fifth. Peralta reached third with one out, but an overanxious Omar Infante struck out and Andy Dirks grounded out.

Verlander needed every bit of focus after Jacoby Ellsbury’s one-out single in the sixth. The Tigers have not held runners well this year, but a number of pickoff throws helped prevent a steal. At one point, Verlander appeared to be pointing at his wrist, as if to ask the dugout if his delivery to the plate was quick enough.

Amid all that, Verlander got Shane Victorino on a flyout, and after Ellsbury moved to second anyway on a wild pitch, Dustin Pedroia grounded out to end the threat.

Napoli’s homer was the first run allowed by Verlander since Sept. 18 <0x2014> he pitched six scoreless innings in each of his last two starts in the regular season before blanking the opposition for 21 innings in the playoffs.

That streak ended with one swing by Napoli.

Lackey was pulled with one on in the seventh. Craig Breslow came on and walked Alex Avila, but Infante’s groundout ended the inning.

The Red Sox appeared to be in deep trouble when Detroit led 5-0 in Game 2, but David Ortiz tied it with an eighth-inning grand slam off closer Joaquin Benoit, and the Red Sox won it in the ninth.

Verlander looked ready to halt any notion of momentum for the Red Sox. He struck out six straight in the second and third, matching a single-game postseason record.

Lackey did his best to keep pace, retiring 10 in a row before Peralta’s double.

The Tigers had taken no-hitters into at least the sixth inning of the previous three games. Verlander fell an out short of extending that streak when Gomes hit a roller up the middle for an infield single in the fifth.

“We won a game with four hits tonight. It says a lot about this team,” Gomes said.

NOTES: Detroit reliever Phil Coke struck out seven straight over multiple outings during last year’s World Series against San Francisco, according to STATS.

POWER OUTAGE DELAYS GAME 3

DETROIT — A power outage interrupted Game 3 of the American League championship series for 17 minutes.

The lights high atop Comerica Park went out and the videoboards were dark between the top and bottom of the second inning, delaying the game between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.

“It appears there was a cable failure in the vicinity of the ballpark that compromised the feed to the stadium,” DTE Energy Co. spokeswoman Vanessa Waters said. “Crews are investigating the cause of the cable failure.”

The Tigers were coming up to bat for a second time with two hits after Justin Verlander held Boston without a hit for the second straight inning when the scoreless game was stopped.

Ten minutes into the stoppage, fans had not been informed how long the game would be delayed. Five minutes later, the Red Sox took their positions in the field.

“John Lackey was given as much time as he needed to warm up prior to the restart of the game,” MLB senior vice president Joe Garagiola Jr. said in a statement.

Cable failures – combined with high temperatures – last month forced the closure of the Detroit Institute of Arts and cancellation of classes at Wayne State University’s main campus in the city’s Midtown. City Hall, the McNamara Federal Building and several court buildings also were closed. And, some traffic lights downtown were out.

Detroit’s electrical grid is plagued by aging power transmission lines which intermittently fail under the stress of high demand and heat. The city’s poor fiscal condition has delayed wholesale updates and repairs. Power downtown was lost for more than a day beginning June 9, 2011. A year earlier, electricity also was lost to some buildings in the city’s downtown and central business district.

The city’s system eventually will be turned over to DTE Energy, which provides power to homes and private businesses in Detroit. But that process is going to be very deliberate and take several years, the utility said in September.

Detroit became the largest U.S. city to seek bankruptcy on July 18 when state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr filed a petition in federal court.

A partial power outage in New Orleans during this year’s Super Bowl that stopped the game for 34 minutes occurred because a relay device with a design defect malfunctioned.

–Associated Press


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