DETROIT – Before the game, Ron Washington stressed the importance of playing fundamentally sound baseball.
The Texas Rangers didn’t do it for another night, though. Elvis Andrus had a throwing error in the first inning. With runners on the corners and no outs in the second, they failed to score.
The Tigers didn’t execute much better, allowing the Rangers to stay in the game all night. But, powered by a solo home runs by Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn, Detroit held on for a 5-4 victory on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
If the Angels win late Wednesday, the Rangers (61-50) would be in a tie with them atop the American League West.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the second off Rangers starter Matt Harrison. Raburn and Avila had RBI singles that inning. Detroit made it 3-0 in the third with an RBI double by Miguel Cabrera.
But Texas clawed back in it with two runs in the fourth and one more in the fifth. In the fourth, Nelson Cruz had an RBI double off the rightfield wall and then scored on a Tigers’ two-out error.
The Tigers gifted them a run in the fifth, too. Josh Hamilton appeared to ground into what would have been an inning-ending double play, but a wild throw to first allowed Yorvit Torrealba to score.
With the game tied 3-3 after five, Detroit regained the lead in the sixth. Avila belted a solo home run with two outs off Harrison.
The Tigers took a 5-3 lead in the eighth with a solo shot by Raburn off Koji Uehara. The Rangers pulled to within 5-4 in the ninth when Mike Napoli homered for the second consecutive game, but they didn't get any closer than that.
Harrison went six innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He induced three double-play grounders, and now has a major league-leading 26 on the year.
Detroit starter Doug Fister, making his first start since being traded from the Mariners, held the Rangers to three runs (two earned) on eight hits over seven innings.
-- Drew Davison