DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers started the week getting frustrated by Daisuke Matzusaka and overpowered by Josh Beckett.
On Thursday, they were baffled again by Tim Wakefield.
The 42-year-old knuckleballer beat the Tigers for the 16th time — the most by any active pitcher — and the Boston Red Sox beat Detroit 6-3 to finish a three-game sweep.
Wakefield (7-3) gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings.
“He’s been a blessing for us,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He’s a good pitcher. He’s unconventional, but that’s OK.”
Wakefield allowed three runs in the second inning, but shut down the Tigers after that.
“After that inning, I felt really comfortable,” he said. “I only needed 80 pitches, so that’s great, and I got some offensive support.”
Three Boston relievers finished, with Jonathan Papelbon pitching the ninth for his 14th save in 15 attempts. The Tigers put two runners on base, but Dustin Pedroia’s diving stop at second base helped Papelbon escape unscathed.
“I was just trying to get an out,” Pedroia said. “I didn’t want the tying run to come to the plate.”
Boston DH David Ortiz, hitting .187 with one homer, had the day off. Ortiz said he is considering having his eyes examined.
Dontrelle Willis (1-3) took a step back in his comeback from control problems, allowing five runs in 2 1-3 innings despite not giving up a hit. He walked five batters and hit another with a pitch.
“I threw a couple good pitches and I didn’t get the calls, and I let myself get flustered,” Willis said. “That’s the first time that’s happened in my career, but you can’t do that against the Red Sox. It was just mental.”
Detroit went ahead 3-0 in the second, but lost Miguel Cabrera in the process. Cabrera hurt his left hamstring going from first to second on Curtis Granderson’s single and was barely able to run while coming home on Brandon Inge’s two-run double. Adam Everett added an RBI groundout later in the inning.
Cabrera said after the game that he doesn’t think the injury is serious.
“We’ll see how I feel, but it isn’t too bad,” he said. “I’m hoping to play tomorrow.”
Jeff Larish replaced Cabrera at first base in the third, when Boston rallied for six runs to chase Willis.
After starting the inning with a hit batter and a walk, Willis struck out George Kottaras, but then walked the next three batters to force in a pair of runs.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland took Willis out at that point, but was ejected by plate umpire Jeff Nelson for arguing balls and strikes before he even made it back to the dugout.
“I want to say that I apologize to the umpires for that — I was out of line,” Leyland said. “There were a couple borderline pitches that could have gone either way, but you aren’t going to get those calls when you are wild.”
Zach Miner replaced Willis and immediately gave up a two-run double to Jason Bay, putting the Red Sox up 4-3. Mike Lowell’s groundout scored the fifth run, and Rocco Baldelli made it 6-3 with a single.
“It seemed like we got a little momentum after they hit Jacoby [Ellsbury] to start the inning,” Francona said. “After that, Willis just had a tough inning.”
The Tigers nearly scored in the sixth, but Larish’s long fly went just foul down the right-field line. Detroit questioned the decision, leading to the first video replay in Comerica Park history. The umpires only needed a few moments to uphold the call.
“Umpires are amazing,” said Leyland, who had watched the play on television in his office. “I must have seen 10 replays before I was sure they had it right, but they did.”
Notes: Miner left after four innings of relief with a strained right calf and is day to day. … Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis, who left Wednesday’s game with a bruised ankle after a collision at first, came out in the fourth inning with tightness in his right calf. The team said the move was strictly precautionary. … Mark Buehrle has 14 wins over Detroit, while Jon Garland and CC Sabathia have beaten the Tigers 13 times each.