Looking to turn around their fortunes after a winless start to their longest road trip of the season, the Red Sox were unable to get it done in the first of three at Comerica Park in Detroit, as they quietly fell to the Tigers by a final score of 4-2 to mark their fifth consecutive loss.
Matched up against Tigers starter Wily Peralta, the Sox actually jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a J.D. Martinez RBI single in the first and Hunter Renfroe solo homer in the second inning, but were not able to push across anything after that.
Red Sox starter Garrett Richards, meanwhile, was once again underwhelming in allowing three earned runs on five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over just four-plus innings of work.
After being handed that early two-run cushion to work with, Richards gave one of those runs right back to the Tigers in the bottom half of the second when he served up a solo shot to Miguel Cabrera, marking the 498th career home run for the future Hall of Famer.
Fast forward to the fourth, and Detroit threatened once more, this time loading the bases off Richards without recording an out before Harold Castro drove in the tying run on a sacrifice fly.
To his credit, Richards escaped the fourth without giving anything else up, but the veteran right-hander saw his night come to an end an inning later when he issued a leadoff walk to the Tigers’ No. 9 hitter — Derek Hill — that was followed by a hard-hit RBI double off the bat of Akil Baddoo, thus putting Detroit ahead, 3-2.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (46 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler, who ultimately raised his ERA on the season up to an unsightly 5.21, was given the hook in favor of Hirokazu Sawamura.
Sawamura got out of the fifth with the help of an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, while Hansel Robles punched out the side in a scoreless bottom half of the sixth.
The Tigers, however, tacked on an important insurance run in their half of the seventh right after the Sox had failed to even things up in the top of the inning.
With Yacksel Rios on the mound for Boston, a two-out double from Jonathan Schoop proved to be the catalyst for Detroit as Robbie Grossman followed with a run-scoring single to make it a 4-2 contest.
Austin Davis kept the deficit at two by keeping the Tigers off the board in the eighth, thus giving the Sox a fighting chance in the top half of the ninth with closer Gregory Soto in for Detroit.
Christian Vazquez flew out and a pinch-hitting Bobby Dalbec punched out for the first two outs of the frame, but in a tough left-on-left matchup, Jarren Duran was able to reach base via an infield single to bring the potential tying run to the plate in the form of Rafael Devers.
Devers, however, struck out on five pitches, with the fifth and final pitch from Soto being a nasty 2-2, 101 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate.
All in all, the Sox did record nine hits on Tuesday night, but went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine runners on base as a team.
With the 4-2 loss — their fifth straight, Boston falls to 63-45 on the season, though they remain just one game back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.
Next up: Rodriguez vs. Mize
The Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the hill in the second game of this three-game set on Wednesday as they look to put a halt to this five-game skid.
Rodriguez, in turn, will be opposed by Tigers rookie right-hander and 2018 first overall draft pick Casey Mize.
First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Garrett Richards: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)