BOSTON -- Jon Lester beat the best.
Lester improved to 13-8 and worked seven innings, allowing one run on eight hits with no walks and a season-high nine strikeouts. The left-hander tossed 111 pitches (81 strikes).
It was a vintage outing for Lester, who had all of his pitches working, including a fastball in the high 90s, a nasty cutter and a curveball.
Scherzer suffered only his second loss of the season, falling to 19-2. He worked seven innings (plus two batters in the eighth) and allowed two runs on nine hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. He threw 111 pitches (70 strikes).
The way Scherzer has been pitching all season, a one-run lead could have been enough for the Tigers.
Former Red Sox infielder Jose Iglesias gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the top of the second inning. It could have been more, but a poor decision by Detroit third-base coach Tom Brookens possibly cost the Tigers a run when he sent the slow-footed Brayan Pena home on Iglesias’ double, only to have Pena thrown out 8-6-2 to end the inning.
As well as Scherzer was pitching, Lester continued to match the Cy Young candidate.
In the fifth, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks committed a one-out error, and the Tigers tried to capitalize, loading the bases on back-to-back singles by Jackson and Hunter with Cabrera coming up. Lester won the battle when he got Cabrera to swing at a 2-0 fastball and ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
Lester was visibly pumped, and Middlebrooks repaid his debt to his pitcher in the home half of the fifth.
With two outs and runners on second and third thanks to a ground-rule double by Stephen Drew, Middlebrooks provided a two-run single to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
Lester stranded two runners in the top of the sixth and walked off the mound with 101 pitches. Scherzer faced only four Red Sox batters in the bottom of the inning, and the duel continued.
Lester needed only 10 pitches to retire the side in the top of the seventh. As he walked into the dugout, he was emotionally pumped up and received plenty of “atta boys” from his teammates. Red Sox manager John Farrell walked the length of the dugout and shook his starter’s hand.
Now it was the bullpen’s job for Boston.
Farrell summoned rookie Brandon Workman to face Cabrera, who flied out to right field for the first out of the inning.
Farrell then brought in lefty Craig Breslow to face the left-handed hitting Prince Fielder, who grounded out to second. Victor Martinez then singled off Breslow, which forced Farrell to bring in Junichi Tazawa to face Detroit’s Omar Infante, who struck out on a 95 mph fastball.
After the Sox’s Daniel Nava drew a walk and Pedroia singled to start the bottom of the eighth inning, Scherzer was done. Boston loaded the bases but couldn't push across an insurance run.
However, with the way Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been pitching, that extra run wasn’t needed.
The right-hander went 1-2-3 in the ninth to pick up his 17th save of the season. Uehara extended his scoreless streak to 25 innings, and he has retired the past 21 batters he’s faced.
GOING STREAKING: With his leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth inning, Nava has reached base in his past 38 starts, which is the third-longest streak in the AL this season. It’s the longest by a Red Sox player since Kevin Youkilis had a 44-game streak in 2008.