BOSTON — The Detroit Tigers have the best pitcher in the American League and the best hitter in baseball.
Jon Lester was better than both.
Boston's ace outdueled Max Scherzer and retired Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded as the Boston Red Sox beat Detroit 2-1 on Tuesday night in a well-played game between two division leaders.
It ended the Tiger right-hander's chance to become just the second pitcher to open a season with a 20-1 record.
"We all know who we're facing tonight and what he's done this season," Lester said, "but I can't worry about Max Scherzer. I have to worry about the other nine guys in the lineup."
The Tigers lead the AL in hitting and Cabrera leads all batters with a .355 average.
So the Red Sox were in big trouble when he came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning with Detroit leading 1-0.
Lester's first two pitches were balls, but he recovered to get Cabrera to ground to shortstop Stephen Drew for a forceout at second base.
"The key to the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
"Obviously, I don't want to be in that situation with him up," Lester said, "the best hitter on the planet. You're trying to really minimize damage."
Boston scored on Will Middlebrooks' two-run single in the fifth after Detroit's Jose Iglesias doubled in a run in the second.
Koji Uehara pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 20 opportunities and extended his scoreless streak to 25 innings as Boston won for the eighth time in 10 games.
Scherzer (19-2), who won his first 13 decisions, lost for the first time since July 13 when the Texas Rangers beat him 7-1.
Roger Clemens is the only pitcher to start off at 20-1 and ended up 20-3 with the New York Yankees in 2001. Rube Marquard was the only other pitcher with a 19-1 record, but lost his next decision in 1912 with the New York Giants.
Yankees 6, White Sox 4
At New York, Eduardo Nunez's two-run double capped a five-run eighth inning for New York.
Pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson tied the score with an RBI single off reliever Donnie Veal and New York went on to win for the 12th time in 14 home games.
Indians 4, Orioles 3
At Cleveland, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched six shutout innings while Yan Gomes and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs apiece, and Cleveland survived a shaky ninth inning.
Royals 4, Mariners 3
At Kansas City, Salvador Perez drove in Mike Moustakas with two outs in the eighth inning for Kansas City, which survived after blowing a three-run lead.
Billy Butler grounded into a double play against reliever Yoervis Medina (4-4) when Moustakas legged out a double to center in the eighth. Perez followed with a single to left, and Moustakas had just enough time for a headfirst slide ahead of Endy Chavez's throw to home.
Twins 9, Astros 6, 12 Innings
At Houston, Clete Thomas scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the 12th inning and Darin Mastroianni added a two-run double for Minnesota.
Rays 7, Angels 1
At Anaheim, Calif., Matt Moore pitched into the sixth inning in his return from the disabled list, and Tampa Bay got home runs from Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar.
Rangers 5, Athletics 1
At Oakland, Calif., Martin Perez allowed one run over seven innings to win his sixth straight start and Mitch Moreland homered to move Texas back into sole possession of first place in the AL West.
After falling into a tie for first with the A's when they lost the series opener, the Rangers bounced back behind another strong performance from Perez (9-3) and are assured of leaving Oakland for the final time in the regular season with at least a share of the division lead.
Pirates 4, Brewers 3
At Milwaukee, pinch-hitter Travis Snider homered in the ninth inning to lift Pittsburgh, clinching the Pirates' first non-losing record in 21 seasons.
It was victory No. 81 for Pittsburgh, ensuring it will not finish with a losing record for the first time since it went 96-66 in 1992. More importantly, it boosted the Pirates' lead in the NL Central to two games over St. Louis.
Reds 1, Cardinals 0
At Cincinnati, speedy Billy Hamilton got his first major league steal and came around on Todd Frazier's double in the seventh inning, sending Cincinnati to the victory.
Hamilton made his big league debut as a pinch runner for Ryan Ludwick, who led off the seventh with a single against Seth Maness (5-2).
Dodgers 7, Rockies 4
At Denver, Ricky Nolasco pitched six strong innings, Carl Crawford had three hits and the Dodgers earned their sixth consecutive win.
Crawford singled in a pair of runs in the second to spark the offense in the absence of injured catalyst Yasiel Puig. The Cuban slugger was rested a day after he aggravated a right knee strain.
Nationals 9, Phillies 6
At Philadelphia, Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer and Corey Brown also went deep to back Gio Gonzalez, leading Washington to the victory.
Still clinging to postseason hopes, the Nationals overcame a sloppy all-around effort that included three errors, four unearned runs and four wild pitches.
Braves 3, Mets 1
At Atlanta, Kris Medlen pitched seven strong innings to help Atlanta get another win at home.
Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis homered for the Braves, who have won 20 of 24 at Turner Field to improve the major leagues' best home record to 51-19.
Marlins 6, Cubs 2
At Chicago, Donovan Solano had three hits, including a two-run double, and the Miami bullpen combined for 42/3 hitless innings. Christian Yelich drove in three runs with a double and single for the Marlins.
Padres 3, Giants 2
At San Diego, Chris Denorfia hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning to lift the Padres to the victory.
Blue Jays 10, Diamondbacks 4
At Phoenix, Edwin Encarnacion, Rajai Davis, Adam Lind and Moises Sierra homered in Toronto's fifth win in six games.