Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Red Sox are one win away from going back to the World Series for the first time in six years after finally solving Anibal Sanchez.
Mike Napoli hit a solo homer and the Red Sox scored four runs against the Detroit starter, holding on for a 4-3 win over the Tigers in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night.
The Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 set for Saturday in Boston.
Boston had nine hits and scored four runs against Sanchez after getting just 14 hits and three runs off Detroit starters in the first four games combined. Sanchez had no-hit the Red Sox in his six innings in Game 1 on Saturday.
Jon Lester (1-1), who lost Game 1, was charged with two runs in 5 1/3 innings to get the win in this one. He gave up seven hits, three walks and struck out three.
Napoli had three hits and scored twice and Red Sox closer Koji Uehara retired every batter he faced in a five-out save.
Miguel Cabrera had an RBI single for Detroit but was thrown out at home in the first inning and grounded into a double play in the seventh that scored a run but killed a potential rally.
The Tigers lost catcher Alex Avila with what the team said was a left knee patellar tendon strain. Avila was hurt in a collision at the plate with Red Sox catcher David Ross in the second inning and was taken out after four.
Game 5 was a pitching rematch of Game 1, when Sanchez (1-1) had 12 strikeouts, but also six walks before he was taken out. Four other pitchers helped the Tigers get within two outs of the first combined no-hitter in postseason history but it was broken up by Daniel Nava's single off Joaquin Benoit. The Tigers won the game 1-0 and Sanchez got the win.
This time Boston built a 4-0 lead against the right-hander and held on as the Tigers, sticking with the reordered lineup that won Game 4, scored in three straight innings.
It was the fourth one-run game in the series.
The Red Sox took two out of three in Detroit and only have to win one out of two at home to capture the AL pennant for the first time since 2007, when they won their second World Series in four years.
Max Scherzer will start Game 6 for Detroit against Clay Buchholz for Boston. Game 7, if needed, would be Sunday.
Lester walked Victor Martinez leading off the sixth, gave up a one-out single to Omar Infante and was replaced by Junichi Tazawa, who gave up a single to Brayan Pena that got the Tigers within 4-2. With runners at first and second, Austin Jackson grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Cabrera grounded into a double play with runners at first and third in the seventh inning, scoring Jose Iglesias to get Detroit within 4-3. Craig Breslow came in for Tazawa and got Prince Fielder on a ground out to end the inning.
"We were fortunate we got a couple of ground-ball double plays ... none bigger than the first and third with nobody out to Miggy," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
The Red Sox threatened to score more in the ninth but Al Alburquerque pitched out of a jam.
Alburquerque walked Xander Bogaerts and pinch-runner Will Middlebrooks went all the way to third on Ross' bunt when he saw Pena -- in at catcher for Avila -- was late covering the bag. Alburquerque then intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole second with Shane Victorino up. But Victorino struck out and Dustin Pedroia flied out to end the threat.
"We dodged a couple bullets," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Earlier, Cabrera ran through a stop sign from third base coach Tom Brookens in the first inning and tried to score from second on Jhonny Peralta's two-out single to left field but was thrown out standing up by Jonny Gomes.
The Red Sox then took a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
Napoli hit a long leadoff homer to straightaway center field on a 3-1 fastball over the plate, Ross hit an RBI double off the bottom of the left field wall and Ellsbury knocked in a run with a line drive infield hit that was deflected on the mound by Sanchez.
Ross was later thrown out at home on Victorino's bouncer after, colliding hard with Avila at the plate.
Napoli hit a ground-rule double to left in the third, moved up on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch to give Boston a 4-0 lead.
Pena pinch-hit for Avila in the fourth and grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and second, but Cabrera delivered a two-out single in the fifth that scored Jackson for Detroit's first run.
Sanchez struck out five ... Scherzer took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of Game 2 against Buchholz on Sunday but neither pitcher got a decision in a game the Red Sox tied on David Ortiz's grand slam in the eighth inning and won on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's single in the ninth ... With the shift on for Ortiz in the third inning Thursday, Iglesias, the Detroit shortstop, raced all the way from the second base side for a running underhand snare on a pop up to shallow left field.