Max Scherzer wins third straight as Tigers avoid sweep by Red Sox

BOSTON -- Max Scherzer and Delmon Young helped the Detroit Tigers head home on a positive note.

Scherzer pitched into the seventh inning, Young homered, and the Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox 7-3 on Thursday night to avoid a four-game series sweep.

Detroit went 10-14 during a grueling stretch of 19 of 24 on the road and returns home to open a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Friday night.

"Going on the road sometimes is a good thing for the bonding aspect, but it will be nice to get back to Comerica (Park)" Scherzer said. "We didn't want to get swept."

Scherzer (5-3) retired nine consecutive batters before Nick Punto led off the seventh with a walk, forcing the right-hander from the game after 117 pitches. He allowed three runs and seven hits in his third consecutive victory, closing out a strong May.

"We just let him off the hook," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Heck, we had his pitch count up in the 80s after four innings and we were having good at-bats. Just kind of let it slip away."

Young hit a solo drive in the eighth inning to make it 5-3, then added a run-scoring single in the ninth.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his 10th homer for Boston, which was seeking its first four-game sweep against the Tigers since 2004. Josh Beckett (4-4) allowed four runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven innings.

The Red Sox opened May with eight losses in nine games to drop to 12-19 on the year. But they closed out the month with a 14-6 run to pull within three of the AL East lead.

Young and Quintin Berry each had three hits for Detroit, which finished with 14 overall. Berry also scored two runs and stole two bases.

"I got back to playing my game tonight on the bases," Berry said.

Saltalamacchia connected in the second inning, and Scott Podsednik doubled in Ryan Sweeney to make it 2-0. Detroit responded with three runs in the third, capped by Prince Fielder's two-out RBI single.

Saltalamacchia tied it with a two-out RBI single in bottom half. But the Tigers grabbed the lead for good when Miguel Cabrera singled in Berry in the fifth.

Beckett had allowed three runs in 21 2/3 innings in his previous three starts, but he struggled again with the Tigers. He gave up seven runs, including five home runs, in 4 2/3 innings on Opening Day in Detroit.

"I made some pitches when I needed to and I didn't make some other ones," Beckett said. "We kind of talk about this a lot, you're going to have five pitches in a game that you have to make, and I think I made three of them today. The other two it cost me three runs in one inning."

The burly Fielder also tripled in Cabrera in the ninth inning.

The Tigers threatened to score in the second inning after Young singled and Alex Avila followed with a double, but Sweeney caught Jhonny Peralta's fly ball to right and doubled up Young trying to score from third.

Game notes
C Avila left in the third for precautionary reasons after getting hit in the helmet with a foul ball but he had no symptoms of a concussion. ... Tigers first base coach Tom Brookens was ejected in the first inning by first base umpire Jeff Nelson for arguing a questionable out call of a Brennan Boesch groundout. After the game, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "I'll pay his fine." ... Saltalamacchia's sixth home run in his last 15 games was his most ever in the same month. ... Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez had his 10-game hitting streak snapped. ... Boston lost to Detroit for the first time in eight games.