The Detroit Tigers may be especially eager to return home after a poorly timed downpour further soured their road trip and helped extend their decade-long stretch of struggles at Fenway Park.
First, though, they'll try to salvage the finale Wednesday night as the Boston Red Sox chase a three-game sweep and fifth straight win overall in a matchup of sinkerballers Aaron Cook and Rick Porcello .
Detroit (54-50) had won 13 of 15 coming into this nine-game trip but has dropped six of the first eight, falling 4-1 on Tuesday. The Red Sox scored four times in the fourth inning off Justin Verlander , then caught a break when the Tigers had the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth.
The rain intensified and the rest of the game was washed out, expediting Detroit's ninth loss in its last 10 games at Fenway. The Tigers, who slipped 2 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Chicago, are 8-30 in Boston since 2003.
"The umpires do the best they can with that stuff. We had been playing in some pretty heavy rain," manager Jim Leyland said. "They definitely made the right call calling it now. So be it. We put ourselves in an unfortunate situation."
Before the game, neither team made any major trades on deadline day, although the Red Sox added left-handed reliever Craig Breslow on Tuesday and Detroit dealt for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante last week.
Even though starter Josh Beckett left with a back injury in the third inning Tuesday, Boston (53-51) is hoping it already has the pieces to turn a brief winning streak into an extended playoff push.
Cook (2-4, 4.50 ERA) was charged with the team's most recent loss, 10-3 on Friday at Yankee Stadium. He has allowed 11 runs, including four homers, over 10 1-3 innings while dropping his last two starts.
"It's very frustrating," Cook said.
A shockingly low strikeout rate may finally be catching up to the right-hander. Although he's never been a strikeout pitcher, instead relying heavily on groundball outs, Cook has needed his fielders for nearly every out in 2012.
He has four strikeouts in 40 innings, a rate of 0.90 per nine innings.
For perspective, Cleveland's Derek Lowe ranks last in the majors among 101 qualifying pitchers with 3.10 strikeouts per nine.
Porcello (7-6, 4.56) is in the bottom 10 in that category at 5.18. While his strikeouts have been sparse, Porcello has done a great job of keeping opponents in the ballpark, yielding no homers over 48 1-3 innings in his last eight starts.
He lost for the first time in six outings Friday at Toronto, allowing five runs in six innings - four of them with two outs in the fourth - in an 8-3 defeat.
The right-hander hasn't faced the Red Sox this year, and he may wish he were missing them again. He's 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in three starts versus Boston, failing to make it through five innings each time. Porcello was ejected following a melee in the second inning of his only previous outing at Fenway on Aug. 11, 2009.
Jacoby Ellsbury is 5 for 5 with a homer against Porcello, who at least won't have to worry about David Ortiz . The designated hitter is eligible to return from the disabled list Wednesday, but he told the Red Sox's official website that his strained right Achilles isn't quite ready.
|July 07, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|July 07, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|July 02, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left hamstring soreness|
|June 25, 2012||Alex Avila||Day-to-Day||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 19, 2012||Jose Valverde||Day-to-Day||Right wrist|
|June 11, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Severe blister, left middle finger|
|Boston Red Sox|
|July 31, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|July 31, 2012||Josh Beckett||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|July 21, 2012||Mike Aviles||Day-to-Day||Turf toe|
|July 17, 2012||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right Achilles strain|
|July 14, 2012||Scott Atchison||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|July 04, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||15-Day DL||Jammed right thumb|
BOSTON (AP) -- Detroit manager Jim Leyland knows that if his offense needs a jump-start he has the perfect players to do it.
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder homered on consecutive pitches to cap a five-run fifth inning Wednesday night, and the Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox 7-5 to avoid a three-game sweep.
"Those guys are awfully good right in the middle. They're pretty good at what they do and they did what they do tonight," he said. "When we get rolling pretty good that's a good three-four combination, probably as good as anybody in baseball. They're fun to watch."
Cabrera and Fielder helped sparked a Tigers' squad that had trouble scoring runs on a just completed nine-game road trip. In losing six of its first eight on the trip before Wednesday, Detroit was held to 2.38 runs per game.
Cabrera, just 1 for 6 against the Red Sox in the first two games, was offended about the recent talk about the lack of offense.
"We're one of the top teams hitting in the American League. I don't know why people talk about our hitting," he said. "We're one of the top teams hitting. I guess we need to just win some more games, that's it."
One season ago, the Tigers had a similar record and wound up winning the A.L. Central with 95 wins.
It's something Cabrera hopes the team can do again.
"I wish," he said, breaking into a wide smile.
Cabrera has been on a torrid pace since early May, hitting .347 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs.
"The biggest problem was hanging a breaking ball to one of the best hitters in the game," Boston starter Aaron Cook said. "He had a long at bat and I tried to do something a little different."
Delmon Young added a solo homer for Detroit, which won for just the second time in seven games.
Carl Crawford hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who had a four-game winning streak halted.
Cody Ross , Will Middlebrooks and Pedro Ciriaco had RBI singles for Boston.
"We keep winning series and we're going to be just fine," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
The Tigers finished 2-5 in Fenway Park and were 5-5 overall in the season series against the Red Sox.
Rick Purcell (8-6) pitched 5 2-3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits for the win. He was 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in three career starts against Boston.
Cook (2-5) was hit hard for the second straight start, allowing six runs on nine hits, including two homers, in 4 2-3 innings. He felt his sinker let him down.
"If I'm still down in the zone, they're hitting balls on the ground and I think the outcome of the game is totally different," he said.
Craig Breslow , acquired from Arizona in a non-waiver trade deadline deal, made his Red Sox debut, allowing a hit in 1 1-3 scoreless innings.
Octavio Dotel and Joaquin Benoit each worked a scoreless inning before Jose Val Verde pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances.
Detroit chased Cook and broke a 1-all game with the big fifth. Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta opened with singles and advanced on Ramon Santiago 's sacrifice. Austin Jackson followed with an RBI single and Quentin Berry had a run-scoring ground out.
Cabrera then hit a towering fly ball completely out of Fenway over the Green Monster seats and Fielder hit a shot into first row of the center field bleachers, making it 6-1.
In the sixth, the Red Sox cut it to 6-4. Boston had loaded the bases with no outs, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia bounced into a double play that scored a run and Middlebrooks had an RBI single. Phil Coke relieved and allowed Ciriaco's RBI single before he struck out Jacoby Ellsbury .
Crawford homered off Coke in the seventh, but Young homered in the eighth to restore Detroit's two-run edge.
The Red Sox had jumped ahead 1-0 in the first when Ross had a two-out RBI single after Ellsbury doubled leading off.
The Tigers tied it in the fourth on Brennan Boesch 's RBI single on an eight-pitch at-bat. But Ellsbury saved a run with a running over the shoulder catch to end the inning, stumbling and falling forward into the side of Boston's bullpen as he came to the ground. He went into the `pen with his right shoulder, the same one that caused him to miss 79 games after he dislocated it in Boston's home opener.
NOTES: Cabrera and Fielder have hit consecutive homers three times this season. ... Boston DH David Ortiz , on the 15-day DL with a strained right Achilles, was eligible to come off Wednesday, but Valentine said he hadn't done any running yet so it would likely be a few days. ... Fielder was hit on the right side of his helmet diving back to second on a pickoff play. The helmet came flying off, and he was checked by the team's trainer, but stayed in the game. ... Valentine said RHP Josh Beckett , who left Tuesday's game in the third inning with a back spasm, is not expected to go on the DL and is scheduled to start Sunday against Texas, but LHP Franklin Morales is ready just in case. ... RHP Scott Atchison , out with an ulnar ligament injury, is expected to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. ... RF Ryan Kalish also made a nice running catch, sliding on one knee as he came to a stop on the warning track near the Pesky Pole. ... Fielder walked over and gave the infield practice ball to a young boy before the bottom of the ninth.