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BOS@TEX: Lackey fans nine over seven strong innings

Two towering righties will take the mound at Fenway Park on Saturday night as the Tigers and Red Sox continue their three-game weekend series.

After left-side tightness forced him out of his last start after six innings, Rick Porcello will go for his sixth consecutive win Saturday.

"I don't know, I think I've caught some breaks this year early on, which have helped me out," Porcello said of his 6-1 start. "I think just consistency with all my pitches has been a little bit different than years past. I have a couple more pitches that I can throw in situations. I think having a little bit larger of a repertoire now, being able to change speeds a little better, has definitely helped.

"I feel good. I think there's a lot of things I can keep improving on. I want to keep getting better, don't want to plateau. We're playing good baseball right now. We need to keep it going. I think as long as we all stay consistent, we should keep playing like this."

Like Max Scherzer, who won the series opener for Detroit on Friday, Porcello has a higher ERA against the Red Sox (10.42) than against any other team. In five starts against Boston, Porcello is 1-3 and has allowed six homers in 19 innings.

The Tigers have their own, less successful history against Red Sox starter John Lackey, who picked up the win in Game 3 of last season's American League Championship Series in a 1-0 duel with Justin Verlander. For his career, Lackey is 6-3 with a 3.86 ERA over 12 starts against Detroit.

"I am throwing a lot of strikes and challenging guys," Lackey said of his performance this year. "I've been able to locate too with a bunch of my pitches. I just have to keep that going."

In two starts against the Tigers in the regular season last year, Lackey maintained a 3.12 ERA and lasted at least seven innings in both outings. His crown jewel, though, was the 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball he threw in Game 3 of the ALCS, striking out eight along the way.

That's not to say, however, that Lackey is taking this year's Tigers lightly.

"They are good. They are a deep lineup," he said. "They have nine good hitters. You have no breaks. It is a lineup that makes you work all the way through."

Red Sox manager John Farrell said that, with the Tigers under new management, they present an entirely new set of challenges.

"They have changed their look offensively," Farrell said. "It has become more diverse. They aren't a team that is just built around the long ball. This is a team that can exploit a number of things on the basepaths as well."

Tigers: Putkonen to visit Dr. Andrews
• Luke Putkonen's rehab assignment has been halted, but he isn't rejoining the Tigers. The reliever's next destination is the office of Dr. James Andrews to have his right elbow reexamined.

The exam, the Tigers announced, is scheduled for Wednesday, a month to the day after Putkonen's initial examination by team doctors. Whether Putkonen joins the long list of Major League pitchers to undergo Tommy John surgery to rebuild the ulnar colateral ligament in his right elbow should be clear immediately after that, though Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said that hasn't been discussed yet.

"Not at this point, no," Rand said.

Putkonen underwent an MRI exam on April 21 in Detroit. The results supposedly showed no structural damage, just inflammation. He spent the next couple of weeks taking anti-inflammatories and rehabbing, then began his rehab assignment 10 days ago at Class A West Michigan before making two appearances for Triple-A Toledo.

Red Sox: Victorino sits Friday with knee issue
• Right fielder Shane Victorino was out of the starting lineup for Friday's series opener because of a left knee injury.

"He came in today and we had a chance to look at the left knee and it is still a little bothersome for him," Farrell said. "He [was] going to go for some imaging this afternoon to get a better read on what he is dealing with."

Sitting out for a second straight game, Victorino banged his left knee sliding into third base in Tuesday's game against the Twins. He stayed in the rest of that game and played all nine innings in Wednesday's contest.

Grady Sizemore replaced Victorino in right.

Worth noting
• Victorino has five multihit games in his last 12 contests, hitting .340 with a triple, three doubles and nine RBIs.

• Detroit's Torii Hunter is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with eight RBI with two outs and runners in scoring position. Comments