DETROIT -- First, the good news: Allen Webster's third major league start wasn't as bad as his second one.
Now, the bad news: it wasn't hugely better and it wasn't near good enough to help the Red Sox to a win.
Staked to a 2-0 lead, Webster handed that much and more back to the Detroit Tigers in the bottom of the first, en route to a one-sided Red Sox loss, 10-3.
Webster surrendered a grand slam to Victor Martinez, the fifth batter of the evening, and the Sox never again came close to competing as Detroit starter Max Scherzer tossed six shutout innings after giving up two in the top of the first.
"The four runs given back in the first inning kind of set the tone for the evening,'' said John Farrell. "But I thought, overall, there was a better assortment of secondary stuff. He thows a decent pitch to Martinez and he goes down and hits it out of the ballpark for a grand slam.
"But again, to righthanders, I thought he threw a number of good changeups for swing-and-misses. We only have three starts to go by, but he's going to be a very good pitcher. It's still strike throwing early in the count is where additional consistency needs to be.''
In his last start, almost exactly a month ago, Webster also gave up four runs in the first. That time, he was chased in the second inning. On Saturday night, against a much better lineup, he made some adjustments and gave up just one more run over his final 3 1/3 innings.
"(He was having trouble) trying to get into the rhythm of the game,'' said Farrell, "and established a pitch on the plate that he can go to. You'd like to see a couple of quick outs in that inning, just to allow him to get into that rhythm.''
"The team did great,'' lamented Webster, 0-2. "They gave me a lead and I went out there and two ground ball hits, a walk (to Miguel Cabrera) and I left one over the middle (to Martinez) and he hit it hard.''
Webster had gotten Martinez to swing and miss on a two-seam fastball earlier in the at-bat and tried to throw the same pitch again. But he failed to bury it down in the strike zone and Martinez drilled it to right.
"I left it over the middle,'' said Webster. "I felt like I had good stuff. I just left that one over the middle and they took advantage of it.''
As rough as the first inning was, Webster faced the minimum number of hitters in the second, and struck out Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta in the third.
Detroit worked a run off him in the fourth on a leadoff single, a stolen base and a single by Austin Jackson.
By then, he had established his changeup more, keeping an aggressive Detroit lineup off his fastball.
Webster retired Cabrera again on a groundout to start the fifth, but with two lefties (Prince Fielder and the switch-hitting Martinez) coming to the plate, Farrell had seen enough.
Still, the night was not without its benefits.
"Each game I learn a lot from facing really really tough hitters,'' said Webster. "I just take every little piece (of information) I can learn and try to learn from it.''
"When you look at the overall raw stuff,'' said Farrell, "it's very, very good. He's got all the pitches and the raw stuff that you're going to look for in a young pitcher. It's a matter of consistency, a matter of repetition at this level, the ability, from at-bat to at-bat to execute pitches is the No. 1 thing.''