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Tigers' Fister flirts with perfection

The SportsXchange

Detroit Tigers right-hander Doug Fister had a perfect game broken up in the sixth inning and went on to toss a four-hit complete game in a 6-1 victory over the visiting Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

Fister and his teammates disagreed over who deserved the most credit for the gem.

Fister insisted it was his teammates who allowed him to succeed.

"Defense," he told MLB.com. "From Austin (Jackson) in the outfield to ground balls in the infield, that's the name of the game, not to mention our offense came out smoking."

It was Fister's first complete game as a Tiger since joining the team in the second half of last year. He went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in the last two months of 2011.

Tigers catcher Alex Avila spoke on behalf of the team in deflecting the credit back onto the pitcher.

"You can't get better than the way he has pitched his last few outings," Avila said. "There's no, 'Well, he's getting better each start.' That's as good as it gets right there."

The victory plus a Chicago White Sox loss pulled Detroit to within 1 1/2 games of American League Central-leading Chicago.

Despite losing out on perfection in the sixth inning, Fister still had a shutout going into the ninth. Cleveland's Ezequiel Carrera tripled to break up the bid for perfection with two outs and two strikes. Carrera also tripled to lead off the ninth and scored on a Jason Kipnis groundout.

Fister struggled with injuries and to a 1-6 start to the season. He has since won five of his last six starts to climb to 6-7. He has gone at least seven innings in each of his last five starts, allowing only seven runs on 25 hits over his last 39 innings while striking out 37 and walking just five.

"A lot of people were wondering what was wrong with him," Avila said. "Well, he hadn't pitched. You can't just go two months without pitching and then come back, not have any rehab starts and just think you're going to go eight innings. That's just not realistic."
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