DETROIT -- Rookie pitcher Allen Webster struck out the side in the first inning Saturday night at Comerica Park.
It's what happened between those three K's that was the issue for the Boston right-hander.
After being spotted a 2-0 lead in the first half of the inning, Webster gave up four hits, one of which was a grand slam off the bat of Victor Martinez, and the Red Sox were unable to recover as they fell to the Detroit Tigers, 10-3.
Austin Jackson started the first inning with a base hit up the middle, which was followed by a Torii Hunter base hit between third and shortstop. After nearly hitting Miguel Cabrera on a 2-0 pitch, Webster walked the Tigers' slugger on four straight pitches.
Prince Fielder was his first strikeout victim, despite bouncing two of the pitches in the at-bat over the plate.
Then Martinez launched a grand slam over the right-field fence off an 0-1 count.
Webster fanned two of the next three batters he faced to end the inning, but the damage was already done.
In all, Webster threw 32 pitches in the inning, 13 of which were balls.
The rookie settled down from that point, allowing just four more hits, one walk and one run, before being pulled with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. He threw 82 pitches, 52 for strikes, and finished with five strikeouts.
His season ERA dipped a bit because of the outing, going down to 11.25.
In two previous starts with Boston this season, he had an 11.74 ERA in 7⅔ innings pitched.
In his last start on May 8 against Minnesota, Webster lasted 1⅔ innings, allowing eight earned runs on six hits and three walks.
Webster has had his struggles with control while at Triple-A Pawtucket, but Boston manager John Farrell was confident enough in the rookie's stuff to give him the start Saturday.
"He's got much better command, in particular with his fastball," Farrell said on Thursday. "He's worked deeper into games and has been more efficient. His stuff has been very consistent and similar to what we've seen here in the two starts and what he showed us in spring training. We're looking forward to seeing him Saturday."
Webster's control issues got him ejected from two Pawtucket games for hitting batters in a span of less than two weeks.
The right-hander is 5-1 with Pawtucket with a 2.98 ERA.
Webster is the No. 4-ranked Red Sox prospect by MLB.com entering the 2013 season.
Next Up: Sunday's pitching matchup is scheduled to be Boston's Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.38) opposed by Detroit's Justin Verlander (8-5, 4.38).