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Red Sox 6, Tigers 7: Tigers strike last in seesaw slugfest

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The Red Sox held the lead three different times, but could never hold on against the Tigers.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox and Tigers passed the lead back-and-forth Saturday night, but in the end, it was Detroit who struck last, with Victor Martinez' two-run homer sinking the Red Sox once and for all in the seventh.

For the first four innings, this was pretty much a one-sided contest, at least on the scoreboard. A leadoff double from David Ortiz in the second--not far from being gone entirely--led to first blood for the Red Sox, with singles from Brock Holt and Blake Swihart combining to produce a second in the third. Meanwhile, the Tigers had maanged a scattered handful of singles against Wade Miley, never putting together enough to push a run across.

But, in the top of the fifth, the Red Sox missed a nice chance to build their lead. With two on and one out, Rajai Davis bent down to pick a Brock Holt line drive off his shoetops, and while the ball seemed almost to roll out of his glove as he tried to secure it, replay provided no proof that the ball ever touched the ground before he managed to scoop it up. Rusney Castillo struck out to end the threat, and in the bottom of the inning, Davis finally gave the Tigers that big hit, clearing out an inside fastball and just managing to put it out of a leaping Alejandro De Aza in left for a game-tying two-run homer.

The Red Sox would not waste long in getting back on top, with David Ortiz showing he still dominates Comerica with his 21st homer in the park--not nearly so far as his second-inning double to dead-center, but to a much shallower part of the park. But just as quickly as they'd retaken the lead, Wade Miley handed it to the Tigers, surrendering four hits including RBI doubles to J.D. Martinez and James McCann, with a wild pitch allowing another Detroit run to score to make it 5-3, Detroit.

Amazingly enough, not even that lead was safe for an inning. A bizarre frame saw Blake Swihart and Rusney Castillo both reach on singles to help score a fourth run for the Red Sox, before two more ground ball hits saw them through to a 6-5 lead. All they needed now was...

Well, for their bullpen to do its job. But that's been a challenge this season, and tonight, even the usually reliable Junichi Tazawa proved unable to give them three clean outs. With Ian Kinsler on base, he left a splitter up to Victor Martinez, and visibly cringed as Martinez crushed it well out to right, once again leap-frogging the Red Sox.

The top of the eighth would prove the first scoreless inning since the top of the fifth, with Blaine Hardy working around a hit and a walk, and in the ninth the Tigers carefully pitched around David Ortiz, getting Pablo Sandoval behind him for the third out and the victory.