DETROIT (AP) — Mike Napoli's drive cleared the wall in center field and landed in the ivy — a spot at Comerica Park usually reserved for Miguel Cabrera's prodigious homers.
In this series, Napoli has been the one hitting key home runs, while Cabrera remains stymied by a tough Boston bullpen.
Napoli opened the scoring with another big long ball, Junichi Tazawa again bested Cabrera in a crucial spot and the Red Sox moved within one win of reaching the World Series by edging the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Thursday night.
Boston returns to Fenway Park with a 3-2 lead in the AL championship series. The Red Sox can win the American League pennant Saturday, when the Tigers' Max Scherzer faces the Red Sox's Clay Buchholz in Game 6.
"Our guys are well aware of where we are," Boston manager John Farrell said. "But at the same time the beauty of them is to not get ahead of themselves, and that will be the case once that first pitch is thrown on Saturday."
Cabrera was thrown out at the plate in the first inning, halting an early Detroit rally, and he hit into a double play against Tazawa with runners at the corners in the seventh. The Tigers scored a run on the grounder, but it was a trade-off the Red Sox were willing to make.
Napoli opened a three-run second with his homer off Anibal Sanchez. Detroit's starters had allowed only three runs in 27 innings through the first four games of the series. After pitching six no-hit innings in Game 1, Sanchez allowed four — three earned — in six innings Thursday.
"It seemed like he was living on the corners and got us to chase some pitches the first game," Napoli said. "Me personally, I was just trying to get something up in the zone and see pitches like I always do, and I was able to get something up."