Red Sox-Tigers Live: John Lackey Saddled With Yet Another Hard-Luck Loss As Detroit Takes Opener 3-0

John Lackey

Final, Tigers 3-0: A leadoff double completes an impressive game for Daniel Nava, but Jose Veras retires the next three batters in order, concluding a frustrating afternoon for the Red Sox offense.

John Lackey turned in an excellent performance on the mound, allowing three runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings, but his teammates were unable to give him any support. Boston put runners on base in eight of the nine innings but could not push across a single run, leaving a man on third base four times in the contest.

Runs may be at a premium again when these teams reconvene Tuesday night. Cy Young hopeful Max Scherzer will start for the Tigers opposite Boston’s Jon Lester, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Mid 9th, Tigers 3-0: A defensive blunder by Daniel Nava allows Don Kelly to advance to second after a two-out single, but the error does not prove costly.

Matt Thornton retired Andy Dirks and Omar Infante via flyout and groundout to start the inning, and he struck out Alex Avila swinging to end it.

The Sox will need some magic here in the bottom of the ninth. Nava, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are due up against Jose Veras, who is usually used in a set-up role.

End 8th, Tigers 3-0: The Tigers bullpen did its job in the eighth.

Phil Coke got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out to shortstop before departing in favor of hard-throwing righty Bruce Rondon.

Home plate umpire Eric Cooper can attest to Rondon’s velocity, as a pitch to Shane Victorino that clocked in at 101 mph on the radar gun nailed Cooper right below his neck protector. The ump shook it off, though, and Rondon shook off Victorino, striking out the right fielder with a 2-2 slider.

Dustin Pedroia then gave Rondon a ride, ripping a double that hit about 35 feet up the 37-foot Green Monster. A wild pitch sent Pedroia to third, but Rondon blew a 101-mph heater past David Ortiz to end the inning.

Mid 8th, Tigers 3-0: After six scoreless innings, John Lackey is on the hook for the loss.

Lackey surrendered a pair of runs in the seventh and allowed two one-out hits in the eighth before being lifted in favor of Matt Thornton.

Jose Iglesias flied out to lead off the inning, but Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter followed with consecutive singles, prompting manager John Farrell to go to his bullpen.

The first batter Thornton faced, Prince Fielder, lifted a fly ball into right field, deep enough to allow the speedy Jackson to score from third with Detroit’s third run of the game.

Victor Martinez grounded out to end the inning. The Tigers will turn to their bullpen, as well, as Phil Coke will come on to face Jacoby Ellsbury in the home half of the eighth.

End 7th, Tigers 2-0: Doug Fister looked shaky for the first time since the second inning. He didn’t crumble, though, and the Red Sox went down scoreless yet again.

Daniel Nava led off the inning with a double to center field, reaching base for the third time tonight. A walk by Mike Napoli — bringing Fister’s total to a season-high four free passes — put the tying run on base with nobody out.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia then attempted to bunt to advance the runners, but his Detroit counterpart, Alex Avila, barehanded the bouncing ball and fired to third to retire the lead runner.

Both runners advanced into scoring position on Stephen Drew’s groundout to first base, but that’s as far as they would get. Will Middlebrooks grounded out to third baseman Don Kelly to end the inning.

With 98 pitches to his credit, John Lackey returns to the mound for an eighth inning of work.

Mid 7th, Tigers 2-0: John Lackey’s shutout bid is no more.

After retiring eight consecutive Detroit hitters, Lackey was tagged for a pair of hits to open the seventh. The first was a single by Victor Martinez, and the second was a rocket by Andy Dirks to the deepest part of the ballpark.

By the time Jacoby Ellsbury gathered the ball in the triangle, Martinez had come all the way around to score and Dirks was standing on third with a triple.

Omar Infante worked an eight-pitch walk to put runners on the corners. Lackey was then helped out by an unconventional (4-3-6) double play, but Dirks was able to score on the play to give Detroit a 2-0 lead.

Alex Avila flied out to end the inning, and the Red Sox will now look to give their starter some much-needed run support.

End 6th, 0-0: Red Sox outfielders have made a number of impressive catches today, but the best defensive player on the field has clearly been Jose Iglesias.

Iglesias has been a part of three double plays so far, and none was more impressive than the unassisted one he turned here in the sixth.

With Shane Victorino on first after a leadoff single, Dustin Pedroia hit a grounder just to the right of second base. The positioning of the ball ruined a chance for a traditional double play, but Iglesias was able to turn one anyway, running over from his shortstop position and tagging Victorino himself before spinning and firing a throw to first.

David Ortiz grounded out to Prince Fielder for the final out. Through six frames, the scoreboard shows nothing but goose eggs.

Mid 6th, 0-0: The Tigers go down without a peep, and John Lackey has now retired eight straight.

Austin Jackson flied out to the warning track in right to lead off the sixth, and Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder followed with groundouts to Dustin Pedroia.

Lackey has allowed just three hits today and hasn’t walked a batter. His arm is still very fresh, too, as he’s thrown just 74 pitches through the first six innings.

End 5th, 0-0: Those early location struggles are a thing of the past for Doug Fister, who completes his fifth scoreless inning with relative ease.

The right-hander allowed a base hit to Will Middlebrooks after striking out both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew, but Jacoby Ellsbury flied out to deep center to wrap up the frame.

The top of the Tigers’ order will come to bat in the sixth against John Lackey, who’s also pitching a shutout at the moment.

Mid 5th, 0-0: Jose Iglesias made a solid bid for his second hit of the game, but Jacoby Ellsbury had other plans.

With two outs, Iglesias flared a potential bloop single into shallow center field (I know, shocking), but Ellsbury sprinted up and extended fully to rob his former teammate with a diving catch.

The web gem completed a 1-2-3 inning for John Lackey, who also got Don Kelly to pop out to open the inning and won a 10-pitch battle against Alex Avila. The catcher fouled off five pitches in the encounter, but he was caught looking on a 90-mph fastball.

Halfway through this one, we’re still scoreless.

End 4th, 0-0: The Red Sox got their first hit of the game, but nothing else in the fourth.

Daniel Nava reached with two outs when his ground ball rolled just out of the reach of third baseman Don Kelly.

Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz flied out prior to Nava’s base hit, and Mike Napoli ended the inning with a swinging strikeout.

Mid 4th, 0-0: These two offensive juggernauts are making a habit of leaving men in scoring position.

John Lackey found himself in a jam again in the fourth, allowing his third double of the afternoon to Prince Fielder to open the inning. A passed ball then put Fielder 90 feet from home with nobody out.

With Fielder on third, Victor Martinez hit a grounder softly down the first base line. Lackey’s throw to first hit Martinez right between the 4 and 1 on his back, but Martinez was far inside the base path — running on the infield grass, in fact — and the home plate umpire correctly called him out.

Shane Victorino then sprinted up to rob Andy Dirks of a bloop single in right field, and Fielder, who does not run particularly well, was forced to retreat back to third.

Lackey then got Omar Infante to fly out center field, stranding a Detroit runner in scoring position for the third time in four innings.

The Red Sox, who still do not have a hit this afternoon, will now send the heart of their lineup to the plate.

End 3rd, 0-0: Doug Fister appears to have settled in a bit.

After walking three batters and hitting another in the first two innings, Fister threw nine of his 12 pitches in the third inning for strikes.

With that control came results, as Will Middlebrooks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino went down in order.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Jose Iglesias is doing all the right things in his return to Boston.

After having a hand in a pair of double plays, the shortstop stepped up to the plate to a round of cheers from the Fenway Faithful and promptly smacked a double into left field.

That double was all the Tigers would get in the third, as John Lackey retired the other three batters he faced. Alex Avila and Austin Jackson struck out swinging, and Torii Hunter drove a 3-2 fastball straight into the ground, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia collecting the slow roller and throwing to first to end the inning.

Will Middlebrooks, who is also rocking the high hose today, will lead off the bottom of the inning for the Red Sox.

End 2nd, 0-0: Doug Fister is having some serious control problems.

The Tigers starter threw six consecutive balls to open the second inning, walking both Daniel Nava and Mike Napoli. The three free passes on the day already tie Fister’s season high.

He was again bailed out by a key double play, though, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded into a 4-6-3 twin killing. Jose Iglesias showed off his highly regarded defensive chops on the play, leaping over a sliding Napoli after receiving the flip from Omar Infante.

Stephen Drew flied out to center field to end the inning, and though they have put four men on base, the Red Sox are still without a hit.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: John Lackey mows down the side in order, needing just 10 pitches to do so.

Andy Dirks grounded out to Dustin Pedroia, Omar Infante flied out to Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Don Kelly struck out swinging on three pitches.

Daniel Nava will be due up first for the Red Sox in the home half of the second.

End 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox followed the Tigers’ lead by putting their leadoff man in scoring position, but they, too, were unable to push him across.

Jacoby Ellsbury worked a nine-pitch walk from Doug Fister to open the game, and Fister’s 11th pitch made a beeline for Shane Victorino’s wrist.

Victorino has been a human punching bag this season, crashing into outfield walls on several occasions and racking up a team-high 12 hit-by-pitches.

Fister was able escape the inning unscathed, though. He turned Dustin Pedroia’s grounder back to the mound into a double play, allowing Ellsbury to take third, and got David Ortiz to ground out to Prince Fielder at first base to close out the frame.

Mid 1st, 0-0: John Lackey found himself in a bind right off the bat.

Leadoff man Austin Jackson got things going early, lining Lackey’s fourth pitch into the left field corner for a double.

Lackey settled down, though. He struck out Torii Hunter on a foul tip into Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s mitt, got Prince Fielder to fly out to the warning track in center and induced an inning-ending groundout off the bat of Red Sox alum Victor Martinez.

Dustin Pedroia made a nice play on the Martinez grounder, sliding to his left to corral the ball before throwing to Mike Napoli for the out. Both Pedroia and Napoli are mixing it up on the uniform front today, hiking up their pants for an old-school, high-cuffed look.

1:38 p.m.: Austin Jackson takes ball one low and outside from John Lackey. Let’s get it on.

12:54 p.m.: After holding the title of best offensive team in baseball for much of the season, the Red Sox have been officially surpassed in that department.

Detroit now leads all major league teams in runs scored, team batting average, team on-base percentage and team slugging (with the Sox ranking second in all four categories). The Tigers will be without their offensive superstar this afternoon, though, as Miguel Cabrera is not in the starting lineup for a third straight game.

Cabrera has been far and away the best hitter in baseball this season and is on pace to shatter his 2012 totals — numbers that won him the Triple Crown. The slugger has been a bit banged up recently, though, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland elected to give Cabrera another day off as he recuperates from pain in his abdomen.

We’ll be underway from Fenway in just over 40 minutes.

11:55 a.m. ET: Happy Labor Day, everyone.

Those of you relaxing at home with work off on a Monday afternoon will be treated to quite the matinee matchup, as the American League East-leading Red Sox welcome the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers to Fenway Park for the opener of a three-game series.

Storylines abound in this potential playoff preview, but the prevailing one involves Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias, who returns to Boston for the first time since the deadline deal that netted the Red Sox Jake Peavy. Iglesias has performed exactly as advertised since the trade, putting up respectable offensive numbers (.292 average, .344 on-base percentage) while playing elite-level defense.

The shortstop will occupy the No. 9 slot in the Tigers’ order against Boston right-hander John Lackey. Lackey has been the Red Sox’ most consistent starter boasting a staff-best 3.19 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP. He has failed to pick up the win in either of his last two outings, though, taking a loss and a no-decision despite allowing just five runs over 15 1/3 innings.

Opposing Lackey will be Detroit righty Doug Fister. Fister (11-7, 3.81 ERA) has pitched some gems this season — he’s allowed just one run in four of his last eight starts — but he’s also turned in some clunkers. His last outing was a case of the latter, as Oakland shelled him for seven runs on 13 hits over five innings.

Rain soaked the Boston area early this morning, but the skies are beginning to clear. We should be ready for baseball when first pitch rolls around at 1:35 p.m. While you’re waiting, check out the starting lineups for both teams below.

Red Sox (81-56)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Daniel Nava, LF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Stephen Drew, SS
Will Middlebrooks, 3B

John Lackey, LHP

Tigers (80-57)
Austin Jackson, CF
Torii Hunter, RF
Prince Fielder, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Andy Dirks, LF
Omar Infante, 2B
Don Kelly, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Jose Iglesias, SS

Doug Fister, RHP

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