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Fister gets back on track as Tigers roll past Rangers

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Doug Fister needed a quality outing before the All-Star break. An early seven-run lead took some pressure off the struggling Detroit Tigers starter.

Fister notched just his second victory since May 14 as the Tigers downed the Texas Rangers 7-2 on Friday at Comerica Park. He scattered eight hits and struck out five in six innings. He had given up at least six runs in three of his previous four outings

"It's a good deal, going into the break with a little bit of momentum and a good feeling," Fister said."Now, you get some recharge of the batteries and get some quality family time at home and then get ready to come back in Kansas City (for his next start)."

An improved sinker helped Fister (7-5) get out of several jams, including a bases-loaded strikeout of David Murphy in the fourth after surrendering the Rangers' only runs earlier in the inning. He had plenty of cushion to work with, as the Tigers batted around in the first to score five runs off Justin Grimm (7-7). They tacked on two more runs in the second.

The first two batters in the order, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, got hits in their first two at-bats to spark both innings.

"That's the key to our lineup, to have them starting it off," Fister said."Then you've got Miggy (Miguel Cabrera) and Prince (Fielder) in the middle and you've got guys like Jhonny (Peralta) and everybody else that comes through in the back end of the order, picking everybody up. It's what a team is all about and that's how we're getting wins."

Following Fister's bounce-back performance, relievers Bruce Rondon, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit combined for three scoreless innings. Victor Martinez extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a run-scoring double and drove in two runs. He's batting .415 during the streak to nudge his season average to .261, though he felt he had some bad luck during his early struggles.

"It's really tough when you hit the ball that good and you don't get the results," he said."You're going to go through funks during the season. That's the way it is. But when you put in good at-bats and you're hitting the ball good, you want them to fall. You know it's going to come sooner or later."

Peralta added a two-run double and Cabrera drove in his major-league high 95th run with a sacrifice fly for the American League Central Division-leading Tigers.

A.J. Pierzynski had three hits, including his ninth homer, for Texas. Adrian Beltre went 0-for-4, snapping his 13-game hitting streak.

Grimm gave up all seven Detroit runs and was removed in the fourth inning with forearm stiffness. He initially felt the discomfort during the third inning but it had nothing to do with putting his team in a deep hole.

"Location did that," Rangers manager Ron Washington said."He left too many balls out over the middle on them. You certainly can't let those guys get extended. You've got to keep them tied up, and he didn't do it today."

The Rangers' rotation is in disarray, with Yu Darvish, Alex Ogando and Nick Tepesch on the disabled list and Grimm giving up 40 earned runs in his last seven starts. The Rangers hope to get those injured starters back later in the month.

"I think we need to get to the break to get everyone a little break," Washington said. "We'll get it together."

Jackson and Hunter opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles. Martinez had a bases-loaded walk and Peralta supplied his two-run double before Grimm got an out. Alex Avila's single brought in the fifth run.

Cabrera's sacrifice fly and Martinez' double made it 7-0 in the second.

Texas answered in the fourth with a Pierzynski solo homer and a Jurickson Profar RBI single but that was all it could muster.

NOTES: Profar, a rookie, made his third start in left field and had two hits. A natural shortstop, Profar has started at four different positions. ... Detroit manager Jim Leyland met the media for the first time on Friday afternoon after his ejection on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox. Leyland and reliever Luke Putkonen were ejected after Putkonen threw a pitch behind Alexei Ramirez. "That's the maddest I've been in the eight years since I've been here," he said. "I totally lost it." ... Detroit's Max Scherzer will make his second attempt to go 14-0 when he faces the Rangers on Saturday. He's trying to become the first pitcher to reach that mark since Boston's Roger Clemens started 14-0 in 1986.
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