BOSTON — The Detroit Tigers got to Boston starter Jon Lester early – then stalled.
After taking a 3-0 lead, the Tigers allowed a pair of two-run homers in the fourth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night.
The Tigers finished with 12 hits and had it tied 4-all in the seventh, but could never regain the lead while falling to 0-3 during a four-game visit to Boston.
"We had three runs on seven hits to start with," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "You normally figure if you get a run for every two hits, that's pretty good. We obviously didn't do that."
David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks each hit two-run homers in the fourth off of starter Drew Smyly, who allowed eight hits and struck out four in six innings. The only runs he allowed were the homers.
Smyly said he even threw the pitch he wanted to Ortiz, but the Boston slugger also liked the location.
"He's a great hitter. Sometimes you've got to make adjustments," Smyly said. "I went and looked at the replay. That was right where I wanted it."
Kevin Youkilis had a solo shot in the eighth for the Red Sox, who have won 14 of their last 19 games but remain in last place in a jammed AL East.
Miguel Cabrera went 4 for 5 with three doubles and drove in a run for Detroit.
Adrian Gonzalez had a pair of doubles for Boston, his second breaking the 4-all tie in the seventh.
The Red Sox can close out the sweep Thursday night when Josh Beckett faces Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer.
Matt Albers (1-0) gave up a game-tying hit, but retired one batter to get the win. Alfredo Aceves collected his 13th save in 16 chances.
With the Tigers trailing 4-3 in the seventh, Lester was pulled after he fanned the final batter he faced – Quintin Berry – and Albers entered with a runner on second. Danny Worth reached on an infield hit before Cabrera looped one down the right-field line that bounced off Gonzalez's glove as he attempted a sliding catch near the short wall, tying the game.
But Gonzalez's ground-rule double moved Boston back in front 5-4 in the bottom of the inning. Daniel Nava drew a two-out walk and Mike Aviles singled off reliever Octavio Dotel (1-2).
The Tigers had built a 3-0 lead against Lester with a run in the first and two in the third before Boston rallied with four after two outs in the fourth against Smyly.
The Red Sox entered the game leading the majors with homers (24) and extra base hits (61) against left-handed pitching. After being held to just an infield single, they added to those numbers with their big fourth.
After Smyly got the first two batters on a fly to the track in center and a strikeout, Boston collected five consecutive hits – highlighted by the two-run homers by Ortiz and Middlebrooks. Ortiz hit a shot into the center-field bleachers – his 12th of the season – and Middlebrooks had a line drive into the first row of the seats above the Green Monster.
Lester gave up four runs on 10 hits, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter over 6 2-3 innings.
Smyly allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings.
Lester, coming off his second-worst start of the season when he lasted only four innings and gave up seven runs in a loss to Tampa Bay last Friday, gave up three straight singles to load the bases before Delmon Young's run-scoring grounder made it 1-0.
Worth had a sacrifice fly and Prince Fielder a run-scoring grounder to make it 3-0 in the third.
"We had a chance there. We had opportunities to maybe break it open a little bit," Leyland said. "We got his pitch count up pretty good early on. Then we just didn't do enough. We didn't get that crushing hit."
NOTES: The Tigers placed RHP Doug Fister on the 15-day DL before the game with and will promoted 23-year old lefty Casey Crosby from Triple-A Toledo to make his first major league start at home against the Yankees on Friday. ... Detroit purchased the contract of C Omir Santos from Toledo on Wednesday after they optioned INF-OF Ryan Raburn back to Toledo following Tuesday's game. ... Manager Bobby Valentine said OF Darnell McDonald, on the 15-day DL with a strained right oblique, would stay with the club for a few days until he felt better. He had played with Triple-A Pawtucket in three rehab appearances. ... A big cheer went up when highlights of the Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference final was shown on the center-field scoreboard.