BOSTON - Justin Verlander knew it was his last batter, and it was a dangerous one.
So the Tigers right-hander reached back for a pair of 100 mph fastballs that blew by Jason Bay and essentially clinched Detroit's 2-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox yesterday.
"That's a horse," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, after the AL Central-leading Tigers avoided a four-game sweep and beat the Red Sox for the first time in seven tries this season. "That's a brilliant performance. The eighth inning was textbook, No. 1-type pitching. To do what he did in that inning, at that point in the ballgame, there's not many guys who can do that."
Bay had homered in each of the first three games in the series, and he had three hits on Wednesday night to help Boston win its third straight.
When he came up with two out in the eighth and a runner on second, Verlander knew it would be a bad time to make a mistake.
"That was a big at-bat," Verlander said. "I was just thinking, 'I'm not going to give up a game-tying home run in the eighth, when our guys have battled so hard.' "
Verlander (13-6) allowed four hits in eight innings, striking out eight and walking one while retiring 16 of the last 19 batters he faced. Ryan Raburn homered for Detroit, and Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 24th save.
Clay Buchholz (1-3) allowed five hits in seven innings, walking three and striking out three while giving up Raburn's homer to go with an unearned run in the fourth.
"As good as Verlander was - and I'm probably exaggerating - I thought Clay was almost one pitch worse," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We just ran up against one of the better performances you'll see."
Buchholz lost his third straight decision, even though he has only allowed three earned runs over 13 innings in his last two starts.
He lost to New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia on Saturday.
NOTES: Verlander is 6-2 in 10 afternoon starts this season. ... He had allowed 13 earned runs in his previous three starts. ... It was Verlander's 15th game with eight or more strikeouts. ... The Tigers said after the game they would option RHP Freddy Dolsi to Triple-A Toledo and call up RHP Eddie Bonine.