Jon Lester eyes his first win in seven starts on Friday when the Boston Red Sox continue their four-game series with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
After starting the year by winning six straight decisions Lester has now lost his last four and has pitched to a 7.20 ERA in that six-start span. That trend could continue on Friday, as he is 0-2 in five starts versus the Tigers with a 4.79 ERA.
Lester lost to Baltimore on Sunday, as he allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings. However, he did strike out eight batters without issuing a walk after handing out seven free passes in his previous start.
"I thought the work he did leading up to the start in Baltimore was a positive," Boston manager John Farrell said. "It's still going to come down to relentless execution, regardless of if it's a two-strike count, whether it's two outs in a given inning, whether it's Jon Lester or anybody else. That's the outcome you're looking for each time a guy walks to the mound. The numbers on the linescore are what they were from the last outing, but still, it was a step in the right way."
Getting the call for the Tigers on Friday will be righty Doug Fister, who lost a no-hit bid in the sixth inning of his last start in Minnesota. Fister won for the first time in six starts on Sunday against the Twins, as he allowed two runs and two hits in 7 2/3 innings to run his record to 6-4, while lowering his ERA to 3.21.
"He was terrific," manager Jim Leyland said. "He did a great job of making them miss the ball."
Fister is just 1-3 lifetime against the BoSox with a 4.09 ERA in six starts.
Detroit jumped out first in this matchup of division leaders in dramatic fashion on Thursday, as Jhonny Peralta's two-run blast in the bottom of the ninth inning carried the Tigers to a 4-3 win. Torii Hunter contributed a two- run hit for the Tigers, who snapped a two-game slide.
Andrew Bailey (3-1) entered with a 3-2 lead, but issued a leadoff walk to Victor Martinez and, after Don Kelly was inserted as a pinch runner, Peralta launched a ball just over the wall in left to end the game.
"I see everybody at home plate, it's a good feeling, hitting a walkoff home run," Peralta said. "It's the best that I can feel."
Drew Smyly (3-0) tossed two scoreless frames of relief, fanning four and allowing just one hit.
David Ortiz homered and knocked in two runs for the Red Sox, who have dropped two in a row.
"We're going to back him out of there right now and try to get him fixed, so we'll look at some other internal options to close," Farrell said of Bailey, who has blown a save in three of his last five appearances.
These teams split 10 meetings last season.