BOSTON - Maybe it's a dominant Tigers pitching staff. Maybe it's a sleepy Red Sox offense. Most likely, it's a bit of both.
The Red Sox had no answer for Rick Porcello Saturday night and John Lackey wasn't his dependable self. That amounted to a 6-1 Red Sox loss on an otherwise beautiful night at Fenway Park.
Porcello pitched eight innings making just one real mistake to Xander Bogaerts in the fifth inning. All in all, he gave up six hits and a walk while striking out four on the night.
Lackey, on the other hand, didn't have anything close to that success.
It wasn't Lackey's night, as the Sox righty went 5.1 innings allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks while striking out four.
After a 1-2-3 first inning, Lackey ran into trouble, loading the bases without recording an out. He got Alex Avila to ground into a fielder's choice which scored one, and then got the next two batters out without advancing the base runners.
Lackey limited the damage early on much like Jon Lester did the night before, but unlike Lester, Lackey didn't have anywhere near his best stuff Saturday night.
Still, the Red Sox once again let the opponent score first, something they've now done 23 times this year, losing 18 of those times.
The Tigers got to Lackey nearly every inning. And when it looked like Lackey may have had the upper hand, he didn't. In an 0-2 count to Miguel Cabrera in the third inning, Lackey threw Cabrera a fastball that found way too much of the plate. Cabrera wrapped it around Pesky's Pole for a solo home run and 2-0 lead.
The Tigers would add to that lead in a long and painful fifth inning. After getting Rajai Davis to ground out to shortstop, Ian Kinsler laced one to right center field for a double. The next at-bat, Torii Hunter followed suit down the left field line that scored Kinsler. After Cabrera singled to center field, it was 4-0 Tigers.
The Tigers were jumping all over Lackey's fastball. Both Kinsler's and Hunter's doubles in the inning came on the first pitch they saw from Lackey, who just wasn't fooling anybody on this night.
Again in the sixth inning, with Lackey somewhat surprisingly back out there, Alex Avila led things off with another first-pitch double down the left field line. After getting Andrew Romine to strike out swinging Davis lined an 81-MPH curveball to left field for yet another double that scored Avila and finally drove Lackey from the game.
It was Lackey's 33rd straight game of at least five innings pitched, but it certainly wasn't an outing he'll brag about.
As for the Red Sox offense . . . well, what offense?
Aside from a solo shot by Bogaerts to make it 5-1 Tigers in the 5th, the Red Sox bats went down for the second straight night without a murmur.
Porcello kept the Sox under control for much of the game, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the 4th that was the only real Sox threat of the night.
Just four Red Sox players had hits on the night, with Mike Napoli going 3-for-4 and Bogaerts going 2-for-3. The Red Sox left six men on base Saturday night.
Edward Mujica came in for relief of Lackey in the 6th, recording two outs. Chris Capuano pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Koji Uehara came on for the 1-2-3 ninth that included a nice catch by Grady Sizemore in right center field for the inning's final out.
Phil Coke finished the ninth off for the Tigers, giving up a hit.
The Red Sox look to avoid a series sweep Sunday night with Jake Peavy on the mound .