Boston Red Sox`s Mike Napoli hits a home run in the second inning during Game 5 of the American League baseball championship series against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday. (AP-Yonhap News)
Mike Napoli homered and the Red Sox tagged Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez for four runs Thursday in a 4-3 win that put Boston on the brink of returning to baseball's World Series.
The victory gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, which shifts to Boston for game six on Saturday and game seven, if necessary, on Sunday.
The Red Sox are trying to get back to Major League Baseball's championship showcase for the first time since 2007, when they won their second World Series in four years.
The Tigers were swept by the San Francisco Giants last year in the Fall Classic.
Napoli smacked a towering solo homer to center field in the second inning to give Boston a lead they never surrendered.
Napoli, who also hit the solo homer that was the only run of game three, also had a double and a single, and scored Boston's fourth run in the third inning on a wild pitch from Sanchez.
Boston's starting pitcher Jon Lester allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings and the Red Sox bullpen allowed just one run before Japanese closer Koji Uehara got the final five outs for his second save of the series.
The Tigers lost catcher Alex Avila with what the team said was a left knee strain. Avila was hurt in a collision at the plate with Red Sox catcher David Ross in the second inning and was taken out after the fourth.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland admitted before the game that a defeat could spell trouble for his team, with the last two games to be held at Boston's Fenway Park.
"They're pretty good there, obviously," Leyland said. (AFP)