BOSTON -- One of the best teams in baseball is in town this weekend for a critical series, and Friday night, against reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, the Red Sox could barely get off the runway.
Saturday night, they couldn't get out of second gear. The Red Sox dropped their second straight game to the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers, a 6-1 loss in which Boston produced seven hits with almost nothing to show for them.
While starter John Lackey had some good moments -- particularly the fourth inning, in which he worked in his curve fluidly to ring up Nick Castellanos and Andrew Romine on strikes -- this will go down as another forgettable night. He allowed nine hits and six runs (five earned) in 5⅓ innings, fanning four and walking two on 96 pitches (70 for strikes) and taking the loss to fall to 5-3.
Lackey's counterpart, Rick Porcello, kept Sox batters at bay with his arsenal of curves, sliders and four-seamers, striking out four in eight innings, scattering six hits and allowing just one earned run. He threw 110 pitches, 71 for strikes, and improved to 7-1.
The Tigers got to work on Lackey early in the second, with Victor Martinez leading off by singling through a shift. Austin Jackson then worked a 10-pitch walk after starting the at-bat down 0-2, and he was moved to second on a Castellanos base hit through the left side. Dustin Pedroia made a quick-twitch snag of Alex Avila's grounder at second, but Avila beat out Xander Bogaerts' double-play relay to first to keep the inning alive and score Martinez. Lackey settled down after that, striking out Romine on a fastball-curve-slider sequence, then getting Rajai Davis to fly out to center.
In the third, Miguel Cabrera sat red and took Lackey's 94 mph four-seamer opposite field, slicing it around Pesky's Pole for a solo home run and 2-0 lead.
The Tigers got two more in the fifth, first with Hunter scoring Ian Kinsler from second on a liner down the third-base line, then Cabrera scoring Hunter with a double deep to left-center. That was followed by two more runs in the top of the sixth that ultimately ended Lackey's night -- a Davis RBI double off the Green Monster, then a Kinsler sacrifice fly to score Davis.
Cabrera -- who came into Saturday's game with a .333/.385/.667 career slash line against Lackey -- finished the night 3-for-5 with two RBIs, one strikeout and one run.
Sox stranded: The Sox failed to produce any run support for Lackey, stranding 12 runners. Their best chance was in the fourth, when they loaded up the bases. David Ortiz hit a liner off the Green Monster, then Mike Napoli knocked a bloop hit to shallow center. After Mike Carp drew a five-pitch walk, A.J. Pierzynski dribbled Porcello's third pitch -- a 92 mph four-seamer -- into a 4-3 putout to end the rally before it started.
In the ninth, Napoli singled to left, then moved to second on Grady Sizemore's groundout to first, but Carp grounded out to third, followed by a flyout to center by Pierzynski to end the game.
The Sox's woes weren't devoid of controversy. In the eighth, Shane Victorino hit a dribbler down the first-base line but was called out on batter's interference, leading Red Sox manager John Farrell to leave the dugout to protest the call to no avail.
Bogaerts' blast a bright spot: Sandwiched between the outpour of Tigers runs was a powerful solo shot from Bogaerts, who planted Porcello's 89 mph four-seamer in the third row of Green Monster seats for his second homer of the season. Bogaerts finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Holt takes hot corner, Victorino returns: Wearing a brace on his left knee, Victorino returned to the lineup after missing Friday night's contest. He finished 1-for-5 with an RBI and a strikeout. Brock Holt was called up to take over third base for Will Middlebrooks, who was placed on the disabled list with a nondisplaced fracture in his right middle finger. Holt finished 0-for-2 with a walk.