WASHINGTON (AP) — The Detroit Tigers hit the ball hard for two days against the Washington Nationals with not much to show for it.
Thursday's final out was no different as Prince Fielder flied to the warning track in center with the tying run on base to end the Tigers' 5-4 loss to the Nationals.
Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano combined for shutout relief after Dan Haren nearly squandered a four-run lead to complete a two-game sweep of the AL champions.
"Unfortunately in baseball there's no way you can guarantee a hit," Fielder said. "All you can do is control your swings and control what pitches you swing at. I think we did that well today, just didn't get the results we wanted."
Fielder very nearly gave himself, and the Tigers, a huge present on his 29th birthday. After Miguel Cabrera singled with two outs off Washington closer Rafael Soriano, Fielder sent a 1-0 pitch to deep center, but Denard Span made the catch on the warning track.
"When he first hit it I thought 'maybe,' but I could tell the way Span was going after it that it was going to stay in the park," Tiger manager Jim Leyland said. "Prince (1 for 5) hit the ball good all day long, didn't get much to show for it."
Fielder said, "I put a good swing on it, just got under it a little bit."
Detroit had entered the series with nine wins in 10 games only to get swept for the first time since losing three games at the Los Angeles Angels from April 19-21.
Omar Infante had three hits for the Tigers, who outhit Washington 12-9. Ten of them were singles however, and Detroit left nine runners on base.
"We got ourselves in a hole early on," Tiger manager Jim Leyland said. "We had quite a ways to come back. We almost did it.
"I thought we actually hit the ball pretty decent both games. We couldn't get that one tweener with a couple of guys on."
Tiger starter Doug Fister (4-1) gave up five runs, eight hits and four walks in three innings, in his first loss since Game 2 of the World Series at San Francisco last October.
"It was just lack of executing," Fister said. "I didn't keep the ball down. I got a lot of the plate a lot of the time and they made me pay for it."
He was removed for a pinch hitter in the fourth. It was Fister's shortest career start other than an outing at Cleveland in August 2011 when he was taken out after two innings because of a lengthy rain delay.