DETROIT (AP) — Mike Fiers might be pitching his way into a pennant chase.
The Detroit right-hander worked impressively into the seventh inning Saturday night, and Jose Iglesias homered and drove in four runs to lift the Tigers to a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.
Fiers has been sharp lately, and after lowering his ERA to 3.49, he’s looking more and more like someone the rebuilding Tigers might trade to a contender.
“You see it. You see your name pop up here and there,” Fiers said. “I’ve just got to keep my mind focused on baseball and pitching and just go out there every fifth day.”
The major league-leading Red Sox lost for just the second time in 15 games, and their AL East edge over the New York Yankees slipped to 4½ games.
Fiers (7-6) had his first scoreless outing since his Tigers debut April 8, when he beat the Chicago White Sox 1-0 in Detroit’s only other shutout this season. This time, he allowed seven hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out six.
Brian Johnson (1-3) gave up two unearned runs and five hits in five innings for Boston. He struck out five.
Detroit took the lead in the second after Victor Martinez reached on an error by third baseman Rafael Devers, playing his first game since being reinstated from the disabled list. Devers fielded Martinez’s grounder well behind third and his throw went past first, enabling Martinez to arrive safely.
That miscue proved costly when Iglesias came up with two outs and hit a two-run double, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.
Fiers was with the World Series champion Astros last year, but did not pitch in the postseason. He made one appearance in the playoffs for Houston in 2015.
He’s making a nice case for another chance this season. Fiers threw only two balls through the first two innings Saturday, and he allowed three runs or fewer for the ninth time in his last 10 starts. He struck out Xander Bogaerts for the third out of the fifth with runners on first and third.
Boston threatened again in the sixth, but with two on JaCoby Jones was able to run down Jackie Bradley Jr.’s drive at the warning track in left field. In the bottom of the inning, Jeimer Candelario hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0, and Iglesias added a two-run homer .
Fiers exited with runners at the corners in the seventh. Alex Wilson got Bogaerts to ground into a double play, ending the inning.
Boston star Mookie Betts had two hits, raising his big league-leading average to .355. He also made a superb catch in right field in the third, reaching above the wall to catch Leonys Martin’s drive.
“I really needed that,” Johnson said. “We’re so lucky to have this outfield. It is almost scary how many times they make plays like that. They almost seem routine, but they really aren’t.”
The Red Sox have been held to one run so far in this series by Detroit, although they did win the opener 1-0 on Friday night.
“Boston’s scored one run in two games, and that’s hard to do,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That says a lot about our pitching staff.”
Red Sox: Devers (left shoulder inflammation) went 1 for 4. … 2B Brock Holt, who left Friday’s game with a bruised knee, was out of the lineup. Manager Alex Cora said he’d like to give Holt the weekend off. … DH-OF J.D. Martinez had the day off after running into the wall while making a catch Friday. “These guys that make the All-Star Game, they really don’t have an All-Star break,” Cora said. “He’s getting the day off because he ran into the wall, but I think it’s a good day off for him anyway.”
Fiers wanted a chance to face Martinez, his college teammate from Nova Southeastern in Florida. It didn’t happen.
“I’ve already texted him,” Fiers said. “All my friends have texted him, too. They’re not going to let him off easy.”
Boston ace Chris Sale (10-4) starts the series finale Sunday against Blaine Hardy (3-2). Sale is 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA in his last seven starts.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball