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Tigers take no-hitter into ninth, down Red Sox in Game 1
Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Anibal Sanchez, along with four Detroit relievers, came within two outs of notching the first combined no-hitter in postseason history.
They'd have to settle for a one-hit shutout and a 1-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
Jhonny Peralta plated the game's only run in the sixth, while Sanchez, Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit racked up a franchise- record 17 strikeouts en route to Saturday's 1-0 victory in Game 1 from Fenway Park.
Sanchez (1-0) struck out 12 over six hitless frames, but issued a season-high six walks and was lifted to start the seventh after throwing 116 pitches.
The trio of Alburquerque, Veras and Smyly kept the no-hitter intact over the next two frames before Benoit took over to start the ninth.
The hard-throwing right-hander struck out Mike Napoli to open the final frame, but Daniel Nava punched a single into shallow center field, giving Boston its first hit of the night.
Benoit quickly bounced back, getting Stephen Drew to fly out sharply to right- center field before inducing an infield popout from Xander Bogaerts to secure the save, and more importantly the victory, for the Tigers.
Jon Lester (0-1) was a hard-luck loser, giving up just one run on six hits and a walk over 6 1/3 frames for the Red Sox, who will look to even the series Sunday when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound to face Tigers' 21-game winner Max Scherzer in Game 2.
Sanchez's propensity for the strikeout was evident from the start, as the Detroit right-hander fanned four Red Sox in the first frame before working around a pair of walks in the second.
Lester, meanwhile, wiggled out of trouble in the first and then again in the fifth, as Jose Iglesias ripped a sharp grounder to third with runners on the corners that Will Middlebrooks corralled before firing to the plate to nab Omar Infante and keep the game scoreless.
The Boston southpaw found himself in another jam in the sixth, when Miguel Cabrera worked a one-out walk and Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch before Victor Martinez slapped a chopper to shortstop.
Drew smothered the grounder at short and tossed to second to start a potential inning-ending double play, but Martinez just beat Dustin Pedroia's relay throw from second to leave runners on the corners.
Peralta then provided his pitcher with all the support he would need, lacing a 2-2 curveball into shallow center field to score Cabrera for the game's only run.
Boston nearly answered in the home half after a pair of two-out walks loaded the bases, but Sanchez got Drew swinging at strike three to end the threat.
Alburquerque then turned in a 1-2-3 seventh before Veras and Smyly combined to stifle to the Red Sox in the eighth.
It was the first time the Red Sox had been shut out in a home postseason game since Game 5 of the 1918 World Series ... Sanchez became the first pitcher with four strikeouts in an inning in the postseason since Chicago's Orval Overall accomplished the feat in the first inning of the Cubs' World Series clincher over the Tigers in 1908 ... Boston and Detroit have been playing one another since 1901, but amazingly this is the first postseason matchup between the charter AL clubs ... Lester started his fourth Game 1 of a postseason series, good for the most in Red Sox history ... Boston finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position ... Detroit went 1-for-11 with RISP and left 12 runners on base.
10/13 02:36:45 ET