Mike Napoli hit a home run and scored on a wild pitch to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 win against the Detroit Tigers that moved them within one win of advancing to Major League Baseball’s World Series.
The Red Sox have a three-games-to-two advantage in the best-of-seven American League Championship series, which moves to Boston tomorrow for Game 6. The St. Louis Cardinals can secure a spot in the World Series with a victory tonight against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship series.
Napoli hit a home run off starter Anibal Sanchez in the second inning and reached home on the pitcher’s wild throw in the third inning as the Red Sox took a 4-0 lead at Comerica Park in Detroit.
“Just come in here and try to hit mistakes,” Napoli said in a televised interview. “We’re in a good position now, but we’ve still got business to take care of.”
David Ross hit a run-scoring double and Xander Bogaerts scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single in the second inning for the Red Sox.
“We had a good plan going in,” Ross said. “Nap putting us on the board was huge. Lester didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but he battled.”
Jon Lester (1-1) allowed two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. Koji Uehara, the third Boston reliever, struck out two in 1 2/3 innings for his second save of the series.
“By the time Saturday rolls around and we have the chance to put tonight behind us, we’ve got two very good pitchers that are against us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Once we get to Saturday, we’ll be focused on the task at hand.”
Detroit’s Max Scherzer is scheduled to meet Boston’s Clay Buchholz tomorrow, while the Tigers’ Justin Verlander pitches against John Lackey of the Red Sox if Game 7 is necessary.
The Tigers scored on run-scoring singles by Miguel Cabrera in the fifth inning and Brayan Pena in the sixth. Their third run scored as Cabrera grounded into a double play in the seventh.
“Our guys are well aware of where we are,” Farrell said of his team being on the brink of reaching the World Series. “The beauty of us is not to get ahead of ourselves.”
Sanchez (1-1) gave up four runs on nine hits and struck out five in six innings.
“We’ve got to win one more game and take it from there,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.