The Texas Rangers knew that it wasn't going to be easy holding off the Los Angeles Angels.
They just didn't want to make it this hard on themselves.
Wednesday, the Rangers lost for the third game in a row and dropped to 1-4 on its road trip with a 5-4 defeat in Detroit.
"We've just got to battle and get back on track -- there's nothing else to say," Ian Kinsler said. "We understand that we're a good team, and we're going to work our way out of this."
The Rangers did lose to another first-place team -- the Tigers lead the AL Central by four games -- but they were defeated by a pitcher that hadn't won a game in two months. Doug Fister went 0-7 in his final 10 starts for Seattle before winning in his Detroit debut.
"He's going to pound the strike zone with a a good slider and a good cutter," Kinsler said of Fister, who came to the Tigers in a July 30 trade. "He's got a lot of confidence, and that's what he does."
Texas almost pulled off something that no team has managed -- coming from behind against Jose Valverde. Mike Napoli's solo homer got Texas within 5-4 in the ninth, but Valverde got the final two outs for his 30th save in as many tries.
"We tried to scramble back in the ninth, but that's a tough guy to score runs against," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
He is now just two saves away from Willie Hernandez's 1984 team record of 32 straight.
"He goes out there, he pitches a smart game, and he does his job," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But he does it in a fun way that I really like."
After the final out, Valverde did a bigger victory dance than normal, then presented Fister with the game ball.
"Our guys were tickled for Fister, because he had such a great debut," Leyland said. "That's why Jose made sure to get him the ball."
Matt Harrison (9-8) took the loss, giving up four runs on nine hits and three walks in six innings.
"I got a little better after the second inning, but I never got where I wanted to be," Hamilton said. "The only inning that they didn't have runners on base was the sixth, and I gave up a homer in that inning."
Fister (4-12) allowed two earned runs and eight hits without walking or striking out a batter. He became the first Tigers starter to go seven or more innings without a walk or strikeout since Justin Verlander on May 17, 2006.
The Tigers scored twice in the second on RBI singles by Ryan Raburn and Alex Avila, and added a third run in the third. Austin Jackson started the inning with a bunt single and scored on Miguel Cabrera's double.
Detroit's defense, though, let the Rangers back into the game. In the fourth, Josh Hamilton doubled and scored on Nelson Cruz's double. Fister should have been out of the inning, but third baseman Wilson Betemit misplayed Napoli's grounder, allowing Cruz to score an unearned run.
In the fifth, the Rangers had runners on the corners with two out when Hamilton hit what looked like a routine double-play ball, but shortstop Jhonny Peralta threw wildly to first, allowing Yorvit Torrealba to score.
Avila gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead in the sixth with his second homer in as many nights. After driving in one run in July, Avila has five in two August games.
Raburn gave the Tigers a two-run lead with an eighth-inning homer before Napoli homered off Valverde.
NOTES: The teams complete the three-game series on Thursday afternoon, with Detroit's Brad Penny facing Alexi Ogando of the Rangers. ... Ogando is 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA in two starts against the Tigers, and will be trying to become the first pitcher in the majors to beat Detroit three times this season. ... Penny will be making his 22nd start of the season, with 15 of them coming in day games. ... Magglio Ordonez grounded into double plays in his first two at-bats, then singled and was promptly erased when Cabrera hit into a double play. In his fourth at-bat, he was spared further DP misery by coming up with two outs.