It seemed as if the Detroit Tigers had all of the scoring chances on this misty and sometimes rainy night.
Collecting four doubles and getting a runner to third with less than two outs on three occasions, the Tigers' offense came up empty each time, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.
"This was a great game," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "It was a great game where nobody should have lost and we lost it. We just couldn't get the guy in from third base."
The Tigers were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, including strikeouts by Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn against fastballs from Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, stranding pinch-runner Andy Dirks at third.
It was the third time over the final four innings that Detroit left a runner hanging at third.
"We were facing one of the best closers in the game and he was able to make his pitches," said former Boston catcher Victor Martinez, who signed with the Tigers last November. "We just couldn't put anything together."
The loss spoiled a stellar outing by left-hander Phil Coke, who held Boston to three singles over seven scoreless innings.
"He was good," said Martinez, who opened the ninth with a double off Papelbon. "He gave us a chance to win the ballgame."
Boston's Clay Buchholz also pitched seven shutout innings. Then Daniel Bard, who replaced Buchholz to start the eighth, threw one pitch before the game was delayed for 26 minutes by rain. When play resumed, Bard (1-3) retired the side in order.
"It was a great ballgame, great pitching," Leyland said. "We had about three chances and couldn't get the guy in. There was one big hit and they got it."
Ryan Perry set down the first two Red Sox batters in the bottom of the eighth. But Leyland brought in lefty Daniel Schlereth (0-1) to face lefty Crawford. The move backfired when Crawford walked on a full count. Leyland visited Schlereth on the mound but left him in and Saltalamacchia got his go-ahead hit.
Papelbon then closed it with his eighth save in nine opportunities.
Detroit lost for just the second time in nine games in a game played in a steady drizzle that got much heavier in the top of the seventh. In spite of that, the starting pitchers were outstanding.
Buchholz, who won his previous three starts, struck out seven and allowed four hits and one walk. Coke, who was 0-3 in his previous five starts, had four strikeouts and allowed a walk.
Buchholz escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, striking out Austin Jackson with his career-high 127th pitch on a full count. Jackson tried to hold up his swing and plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth checked with first base umpire Gary Cederstrom, who signaled that Jackson had swung.
"Yes, he did," Leyland said when asked if he thought Jackson swung. "I didn't think so at first. It might have been wishful thinking on my part. My first base coach said he did."
The right-hander had retired the first batter of the inning then hit Jhonny Peralta with a pitch. Peralta went to second on a single by Avila. Raburn struck out before Buchholz hit another batter, Brandon Inge, loading the bases. It was Buchholz's first two hit batsmen of the season.
Then he fanned Jackson after several foul balls.
Through six innings, each team managed just three hits.
For Detroit, all three were doubles — by Miguel Cabrera in the fourth, Avila in the fifth and Jackson in the sixth. Jackson moved to third on a sacrifice, but Buchholz retired the next two batters.
Boston got a one-out single by Dustin Pedroia in the first and a leadoff single by Kevin Youkilis in the second, but both were out when the next batter hit into a double play. Jed Lowrie singled with two outs in the fifth and didn't move up.
NOTES: Boston RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka went on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained ligament in his pitching elbow that could sideline him for a month. The move came two days after another starter, John Lackey, went on the DL with a strained right elbow. ... Tigers DH Martinez said the time he spent with Boston after being traded there in July 31, 2009, was "the best time of my career." He said "We did everything we could do to come back" but signed a four-year, $50 million contract with Detroit last November. ... Both teams had their previous games rained out on Tuesday. ... The Tigers have at least one extra-base hit in all 42 games, the second longest streak in team history. The longest is 51 in 1919.