BOSTON -- Former Red Sox prospect Anibal Sanchez and four relievers came within two outs of the first combined no-hitter in postseason history and the Detroit Tigers pulled out a 1-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the opener of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night.
Sanchez, who has thrown a no-hitter in his major league career, pitched the first six innings, walking six and striking out 12, including four in the first inning.
Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit (third save of this postseason) followed and Benoit gave up a one-out single to Daniel Nava in the ninth inning. That left the Tigers just shy of only the third no-hitter in postseason history.
Red Sox pinch-runner Quintin Berry stole second with two out in the ninth before rookie Xander Bogaerts popped out to end it.
The five Tigers pitchers tied a major-league postseason record with 17 strikeouts.
Jhonny Peralta, whose 50-game PED suspension ended just before the postseason, had an RBI single off tough-luck loser Jon Lester (1-1) in the sixth inning and added two doubles. His RBI hit with two out came after he heard chants of "ste-roids" from the Fenway Park crowd.
The Tigers, looking for a 2-0 lead in the series, send probable Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer to the mound against Clay Buchholz on Sunday night before the series shifts to Detroit.
Coupled with the St. Louis Cardinals' 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in St. Louis, Saturday was the first day in postseason history to fashion two 1-0 decisions.
The Red Sox had the bases loaded and two outs after Sanchez (1-1 in the postseason) issued back-to-back walks in the sixth. But Stephen Drew became strikeout victim No. 12 to end the inning and Sanchez's night.
Lester yielded the one run and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Don Larsen (perfect game, 1956 World Series) and Roy Halladay (NLDS, 2010) threw the other postseason no-hitters.
Sanchez's no-hitter came on Sept. 6, 2006, for the Marlins in his 13th major league start. He has five complete games of one hit or fewer as a starter and had a no-hitter broken up by Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins with one out in the ninth inning in May.
Sanchez was lifted after throwing 116 pitches in the ALCS opener.
Drew made an over-the-shoulder running catch at short to save two runs in the ninth.
Sanchez, sent to the Marlins with Hanley Ramirez in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, dreamed of pitching in the postseason at Fenway Park but thought it would be with the Red Sox instead of against them.
"I played in two leagues really close to here," Sanchez said Friday. "I played (in 2004) in Lowell, Mass., really close to here. And Portland, Maine (where he played in 2005 and was Lester's teammate) is really close, too.
"When I was in the minor leagues, I remember I came to a lot of games (when) Pedro Martinez (was) pitching. And I say one day I would like to have the uniform and be here. But that's what you think at that moment."
Sanchez then went out and became the second pitcher in postseason history (the first since the Chicago Cubs' Orville Overall in 1908) and the first Tigers pitcher to strike out four batters in one inning. He walked one and fanned four in a first inning extended by a wild pitch on strike three to Shane Victorino but struck out David Ortiz and Mike Napoli with two men on.
Lack of speed and base-running problems kept the Tigers off the board in the first five innings despite five hits.
Meanwhile, Sanchez had three more strikeouts in the fourth and 10 through five innings while allowing no hits.
According to Fox, the Tigers became the first team in postseason history to have pitchers open with five no-hit innings in back-to-back games. Justin Verlander did it in Game 5 of the ALDS.
NOTES: Scherzer is 23-3 this season, counting the two games in the ALDS (he won Game 4 in relief). He is the likely Cy Young Award winner, something Buchholz probably would have battled for had he not gotten hurt. Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA when he went down in June for three months. ,,, Scherzer sported the numbers 41-26 on his sweatshirt Saturday night in honor of alma mater Missouri's 41-26 upset of No. 7 Georgia on the road earlier in the day. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland played down the move that sent SS Jhonny Peralta to left field, with former Red Sox Jose Iglesias at shortstop. "We're not making too big a deal out of that," Leyland said. ... Former Red Sox SS Nomar Garciaparra threw out the first pitch. ... It was dry at game time after a steady mist fell late afternoon.