Tigers 5, Red Sox 1

It’s another Detroit breakdown for the Red Sox

The Tigers’ Ramon Santiago watches the flight of his two-run homer off John Lackey in the fourth inning yesterday at Comerica Park. It was his first homer since last Aug. 15. The Tigers’ Ramon Santiago watches the flight of his two-run homer off John Lackey in the fourth inning yesterday at Comerica Park. It was his first homer since last Aug. 15. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 17, 2010

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DETROIT — Baseball players like to say that one of the best things about their sport is that there is almost always a game the next day, an opportunity to atone for mistakes and start over again fresh.

But the Red Sox yesterday played like a team still recovering from a 12-inning loss against the Detroit Tigers the night before.

There was a collective lack of energy and purpose, short tempers with plate umpire Lance Barksdale, and body language that reflected frustration as shoulders slumped and bats were flung away in disgust.

The result was a 5-1 loss, the third defeat in four games for the Sox. The next two games will be in New York against the Yankees starting tonight.

A lengthy effort was needed from starter John Lackey after five relievers were called on for 4 2/3 innings Saturday night. The righthander delivered that much, going seven innings and throwing 123 pitches, his most since last August.

But they were a fitful seven innings as Lackey allowed five runs on nine hits and four walks. The Tigers scored twice in the second inning as Lackey threw 38 pitches and risked ejection for argu ing balls and strikes with Barksdale.

At one point, catcher Jason Varitek had to get in the middle of a shouting match.

“In that situation I had to be quick to act. I can afford to be gone. We can’t afford to lose the pitcher in the third inning,’’ Varitek said. “I don’t need umpires yelling at pitchers. I told [Barksdale], ‘I’ll handle the pitcher, you handle the plate.’ ’’

Lackey had two outs and a runner on first when light-hitting backup Don Kelly singled to left field. Rookie Alex Avila then saw 12 pitches before drawing a walk.

“I thought we had Avila struck out and we missed the call,’’ Varitek said. “It did extend the inning, but that’s no excuse.’’

The next batter, Danny Worth, grounded toward first. Lackey was late covering the bag and missed it with his foot. That allowed a run to score.

“I just didn’t get over there,’’ Lackey said. “That was my fault.’’

Lackey then walked Johnny Damon to force in another run.

“You get a little frustrated,’’ Lackey said when asked about Barksdale’s strike zone. “You still have to make pitches. You can’t steer the ball.’’

Trailing, 3-1, Lackey got two quick outs in the fourth before Damon hit a soft line drive to right that deflected off the glove of a leaping Bill Hall at second base.

Ramon Santiago, who walked with the bases loaded to beat the Sox Saturday night, followed with a home run into the right-field stands when Lackey left a curveball high in the strike zone. It was the first home run for Santiago since last Aug. 15.

Lackey had been 6-1 in nine career starts against Detroit, 4-0 at Comerica Park.

The one thing Lackey was able to do was regain his composure and finish seven innings. That protected the bullpen for tonight.

“That was huge,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “When we look up after two innings and he’s sitting at 51 pitches, we’re trying to figure it out. It’s early, but that pace right there is not what you want. But as he really can do, he can gather it in, he competes.’’

The Sox managed only one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings against righthander Armando Galarraga, who was called up from Triple A Toledo to make the start.

“I’ll be honest, I think he got away with some pitches,’’ said David Ortiz, who cooled off with an 0-for-3 day that included two strikeouts. “We had some decent swings but we couldn’t do much with him.’’

The Sox scored their only run in the third when Jonathan Van Every doubled to the gap in left and scored on a double by Jeremy Hermida, whose 20 RBIs are tied for third on the team despite his having only 83 at-bats.

Galarraga walked three and struck out five. Tigers manager Jim Leyland used four relievers to get the final 10 outs. The Sox loaded the bases in the seventh against lefthander Fu-Te Ni but he struck out J.D. Drew to end the threat.

The Red Sox are 1-2 to start a 13-day stretch in which they will play 11 games on the road, all against contenders.

“We can’t worry about these two [losses],’’ Ortiz said. “We have been playing better than we looked the last two days. If we go to New York and play well against the Yankees, everything will be fine.’’

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