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Wounded Tigers beat wounded Phillies

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Many of the stars were missing from the Friday night lineups of the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies, leaving it to others to decide the outcome.

Alex Avila improved his batting average to .187 with a two-run double with one out in the fifth inning to give the Tigers a 2-1 victory over the Phillies. The Tigers used the combined four-hit pitching of Doug Fister and Joaquin Benoit to keep the Phillies' offense under control.

Avila, playing his 63rd game of Detroit's 102, was down 0-2 in the count when he torched a hanging off-speed pitch by Cole Hamels (4-13) for his double to deep left-center to erase a 1-0 deficit.

"I've gotten quite a few big RBIs since I've been back (off the disabled list)," Avila said. "He threw me a 'hanger.' I saw it out of his hand and I put a good swing on it."

Hamels gave up only six hits in seven innings of work as the Phillies dropped their sixth in a row. Philadelphia has scored a total of 10 runs in those six losses.

Fister (9-5) gave up an unearned run in the third when he allowed two of his three hits. He struck out six and walked one. It was his third straight winning start and second since the All-Star break.

"I think Doug Fister needed a blow," manager Jim Leyland of Detroit said, using baseball vernacular for getting a breather. "I think the All-Star game came at the right time for him. He's a strong second-half pitcher. He knows what he's doing out there."

Benoit observed his 36th birthday by getting his 10th save in as many chances.

Detroit played without defending American League MVP Miguel Cabrera for the fourth game in a row and was also minus All-Star right fielder Torii Hunter, who has a sore left Achilles tendon. Second baseman Omar Infante, out since early July, is expected to miss another week with a bad left ankle.

The Phillies are minus left fielder Domonic Brown, first baseman Ryan Howard and center fielder Ben Revere. Lefty Cliff Lee was scratched from his Saturday start with a sore neck.

"I don't know what else can go wrong," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I just hope I can get back to the hotel all right. When I do, I'll double-lock the doors."

Rookie Hernan Perez, subbing for Infante at second, started Detroit's winning rally with a one-out walk and was doubled to third by Ramon Santiago, playing third in place of Cabrera. Avila then put Detroit ahead with his two-run double.

Philadelphia scored an unearned run in the third, taking advantage of an error by Perez, who booted a grounder by John Mayberry Jr. that may have been deflected by Fister.

Carlos Ruiz singled with one out and Michael Young brought Mayberry in with a ground single to left. It was the first time in the last 47 innings the Phillies had held a lead in a game.

Manuel hopes Lee will miss just one start for the Phillies because of his sore neck.

"It's been bothering him for three days," the Philadelphia manager said. "It's pretty serious as far as him moving it. I'm sure he'll pitch as soon as he gets well."

Manuel also said all the trade deadline talk might be having an unsettling effect on his team.

NOTES: Although Cabrera sat out Friday, he did take batting practice. It was notable, though, that Cabrera was hitting almost exclusively to right field because turning on a ball would have aggravated his bad left hip flexor. ... Manuel still needs four victories to become the 59th manager in Major League history to work 1,000 winning games. ... Hunter was scratched from the starting lineup due to a sore left Achilles that forced him out of the game late Thursday. ... LHP Raul Valdes will replace Lee as the Phillies starting pitcher Saturday. "He's the only guy down there capable of giving us multiple innings," Manuel said of Valdes, who was starting when brought up from the minors. ... Infante suffered a setback Thursday when he had to come out of a rehab game at low Class A West Michigan in the fourth inning due to left ankle pain.
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