The AL’s regular-season ERA champion, Sanchez loaded the bases in the sixth on three walks. But he struck out Stephen Drew to end the inning, coming off the mound with a celebratory arm pump and high leg kick.
Alburquerque pitched a perfect seventh, Veras got two and Smyly retired David Ortiz on a harmless fly ball to center to end the eighth. Drew kept the score close for Boston in the bottom of the eighth, racing into shallow center field to make a juggling, over-the-shoulder catch on Prince Fielder’s looper with runners on second and third.
Benoit struck out Mike Napoli to start the ninth before Nava singled to end the no-hit bid.
In all, Lester gave up six hits and a walk, striking out four in 6 1-3 innings.
Two nights after Justin Verlander took a no-hit bid into the seventh to finish off Oakland in the AL division series, Sanchez followed in similar fashion. His four strikeouts in the first inning — thanks to a third-strike wild pitch to Shane Victorino — tied the major league record for a postseason game set by the Cubs’ Orval Overall in the 1908 World Series.
It’s the first time in baseball postseason history a team has had back-to-back games in which its starting pitcher had a no-hitter through five innings.
On a brisk night with the wind blowing in from center, the Tigers got the only run they needed in the sixth after Cabrera drew a one-out walk and moved to second when Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch. Victor Martinez hit a sharp grounder to short for the force at second, but he beat the relay throw to first by inches to keep the inning alive.
Peralta then knocked a 2-2 pitch to center to score Cabrera from third.
Detroit threatened when Martinez doubled to lead off the fifth, but he was caught off second base on Omar Infante’s sharp grounder to first. Alex Avila singled, and Infante took third when Victorino bobbled the ball in right.
On Jose Iglesias’ grounder, third baseman Will Middlebrooks threw the ball home to retire the lead runner. Austin Jackson flied out to right, ending the inning.