DETROIT (AP) — When Doug Fister is in a groove, the innings can fly by pretty quickly.
“I do take pride in going fast. It’s a fine line between working fast and hurrying through your delivery,” the Detroit right-hander said. “You keep your defense on their toes. They’re more behind you when you’re working fast at a good tempo.”
Fister pitched eight innings without allowing an earned run on Friday night, and Alex Avila’s two-run double in the fifth gave him all the support he would need in the Tigers’ 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Fister allowed three hits and a walk — and the game was finished in a crisp 2 hours, 24 minutes.
“Pretty easy when you’re pretty much on the same page, and he’s getting it, getting it back up there and throwing it,” said Avila, Detroit’s catcher. “When he’s throwing strikes and getting guys out, it’s pretty fun.”
Avila’s big hit sent the Phillies to their season-worst sixth straight loss.
Cole Hamels (4-13) was trying to protect a 1-0 lead for the Phillies when he allowed the bottom of Detroit’s order to break through. After a one-out walk to Hernan Perez, Ramon Santiago and Avila — the No. 9 batter — hit back-to-back doubles.
“Changeup. He threw a hanger — that’s what it was. I just saw it out of his hand, and it was up, and put a pretty good swing on it,” said Avila, who is hitting .187 on the year. “It was just a good all-around baseball game — good pitching, a lot of tense moments — a fun game.”
Santiago was playing third base in place of slugger Miguel Cabrera, who hasn’t played since Monday because of an injured left hip.
Fister (9-5) struck out six. Joaquin Benoit pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 10 chances.
Darin Ruf grounded out with a man on third to end it.
With the Phillies struggling to stay in playoff contention, the trade deadline might take on added significance for them.
“I think it might be bothering them,” manager Charlie Manuel said of his club. “We’ve got a lot of young, inexperienced players, and they get concerned about where they are going to be playing and who is going be traded. That didn’t used to be the case, but things are all over the place now and they read it all.”
The Tigers were without Cabrera, outfielder Torii Hunter (left Achilles) and second baseman Omar Infante (sprained left ankle). The Phillies were short-handed, too, with first baseman Ryan Howard and outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere on the disabled list.
In the middle of their latest loss, the Phillies announced left-hander Cliff Lee would miss Saturday night’s start because of a stiff neck.
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead with a third-inning run off Fister. John Mayberry Jr. reached on an error by Perez, the second baseman. One out later, Carlos Ruiz hit a single, and Michael Young followed with an RBI single to snap an 0-for-12 skid.
But Fister struck out the next two hitters to get out of that jam. After Ruf’s single in the fourth, no more Phillies reached base until the eighth.
Young drew a two-out walk then, but Fister retired Kevin Frandsen on a groundout and walked off to an ovation from the Comerica Park crowd.
Benoit allowed a leadoff single by Jimmy Rollins. With one out, Rollins stole second, and with two outs, he stole third. But the Phillies couldn’t get him home.
Santiago had a nice all-around game. Young led off with a grounder toward the hole between Santiago and shortstop Jhonny Peralta, and Santiago made a diving stop to retire the Philadelphia third baseman.
In the fifth, Santiago’s double down the left-field line brought Avila to the plate in a second-and-third situation. Avila hit a drive to the gap in left-center to score both runners.
Hamels allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He walked three and struck out six.
NOTES: Philadelphia’s Delmon Young was hitless in his return to Detroit, where he was the MVP of last year’s AL championship series for the Tigers. … Detroit’s Max Scherzer (14-1) faces Philadelphia’s Raul Valdes (1-0) on Saturday night.