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Lester outduels Scherzer, Red Sox top Tigers 2-1

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm •  Published: September 3, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — The Detroit Tigers have the best pitcher in the American League and the best hitter in baseball.

Jon Lester was better than both.

Boston's ace outdueled Max Scherzer and retired Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded as the Boston Red Sox beat Detroit 2-1 on Tuesday night in a well-played game between two division leaders.

It ended the Tigers' right-hander's chance to become just the second pitcher to open a season with a 20-1 record.

"We all know who we're facing tonight and what he's done this season," Lester said, "but I can't worry about Max Scherzer. I have to worry about the other nine guys in the lineup."

The Tigers lead the AL in hitting and Cabrera leads all batters with a .355 average.

So the Red Sox were in big trouble when he came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning with Detroit leading 1-0.

Lester's first two pitches were balls, but he recovered to get Cabrera to ground to shortstop Stephen Drew for a forceout at second base.

"The key to the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

"Obviously, I don't want to be in that situation with him up," Lester said, "the best hitter on the planet. You're trying to really minimize damage."

Boston scored on Will Middlebrooks' two-run single in the fifth after Detroit's Jose Iglesias doubled in a run in the second.

Koji Uehara pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 20 opportunities and extended his scoreless streak to 25 innings as Boston won for the eighth time in 10 games.

Lester (13-8) lowered his ERA to 1.71 in his past six starts. He allowed one earned run and eight hits with a season-high nine strikeouts and no walks.

Scherzer (19-2), who won his first 13 decisions, lost for the first time since July 13 when the Texas Rangers beat him 7-1.

"For me, it's a team thing," he said. "If I win 20, it's a team achievement."

Scherzer can thank his hitters for many of those wins. The 7.17 runs per nine innings they scored for him going into his 28th start on Tuesday were the most among all AL pitchers.

But Lester shut them down.

"He was totally different than the first time we faced him," Torii Hunter said. "He was the Jon Lester of old."

Lester struggled for nearly two months before the All-Star game. In one game, he allowed five runs in 5 2-3 innings against the Tigers. But he's 5-2 since the break.

"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Farrell said. "We didn't have anything going against Scherzer until the two-out base hit by Will for the two RBIs. Jon was very good when we needed it."

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