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Originally published May 14, 2013 at 8:40 PM | Page modified May 14, 2013 at 9:09 PM

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Astros fall to Tigers again 6-2

For four innings, Lucas Harrell was shutting down Detroit, forcing the Tigers to hit groundball after groundball.

AP Baseball Writer

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For four innings, Lucas Harrell was shutting down Detroit, forcing the Tigers to hit groundball after groundball.

In the fifth, Detroit lifted a few balls into the air, and the night ended in frustration for Harrell and the Houston Astros.

Harrell allowed three runs with two outs in the fifth, and the Astros went on to lose 6-2 to the Tigers on Tuesday night. Miguel Cabrera homered, Doug Fister pitched seven impressive innings and Andy Dirks gave Detroit a lift for a second straight game.

Dirks hit a grand slam in Monday's 7-2 win over Houston, and a night later he capped that fifth-inning rally with a tiebreaking double that bounced over the wall in right-center.

"We're trying some new things with our defense, and I thought they worked against me tonight," Harrell said. "The ball that Dirks hit was up there forever, and I thought someone might have caught that one. He hit it hard, and that's my fault, but I was hoping someone would get there."

The Tigers added two more runs in the sixth, and Cabrera hit his eighth homer of the year in the seventh, a solo shot that gave Detroit a 6-2 advantage.

Fister (5-1) gave up two runs and five hits. He struck out seven without a walk.

Harrell (3-4) allowed five runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. The Astros have lost six straight and 16 of 19.

After his strong start, Harrell just couldn't hold off the Tigers - even on a night when Ramon Santiago was filling in for shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Don Kelly was in center field in place of injured Austin Jackson.

Kelly was hitting .200 entering the game, but his RBI single in the fifth got the Tigers on the scoreboard. Santiago, who was hitting .154 coming in, drove in Kelly with a tying double for his first RBI of the year.

"You don't want to be the last out. You want to keep going," Santiago said. "Those RBIs with two outs, they are big."

Dirks put Detroit ahead 3-2 with his double. The Tigers added two more runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Victor Martinez and a wild pitch by reliever Travis Blackley that allowed Prince Fielder to score.

"We've had a lot of games like this, where one inning blows up on us. Tonight, I thought we did a nice job of holding that inning to three runs, but then we needed to put another zero in the next inning and keep ourselves in the game," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "We didn't do that, and that hurt us."

Detroit has won all six matchups with the Astros this season, by a combined 50-12. This one was more competitive than Harrell's previous start against the Tigers, which Detroit won 17-2 earlier this month.

Houston was without standout second baseman Jose Altuve, who went on the bereavement list Tuesday following the death of his grandmother.

The Astros had turned a major league-high 52 double plays entering Tuesday's game, and they added two more to that total in the first four innings. Houston took the lead in the second when J.D. Martinez hit an RBI double and Jimmy Paredes added a sacrifice fly.

Fister retired 12 in a row after a third-inning single by Jake Elmore. He gave up a double to J.D. Martinez in the seventh but struck out the next two hitters to finish his night on a high note.

"We have spurts where we have good at-bats, but there are other times where we miss the pitch we need to hit, or when we are taking the pitches we need to attack," Porter said. "The key to making it in this league is figuring out the pitchers and how they are trying to get you out. You need to be able to adjust to the way they are attacking you, and we aren't there yet."

NOTES: Houston is 10-30, the worst start by a major league team since Kansas City was also 10-30 en route to a 100-loss season in 2006, according to STATS. ... The Tigers go for a three-game sweep Wednesday. Detroit's Max Scherzer (5-0) takes the mound against Houston's Dallas Keuchel (0-1).



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