DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Tigers came into this season counting on Doug Fister to be a strong complement to Justin Verlander at the top of their rotation.
They never imagined it would take Fister until mid-June to get his first victory of the season.
Fister pitched six shutout innings in his return from the disabled list, Miguel Cabrera homered and also scored when Colorado misplayed his comebacker, and the Tigers defeated the Rockies 4-1 Saturday.
``It's definitely a step in the right direction,' Fister said. ``I didn't have any pain, and I executed pitches when I needed them. Right now, I feel very good.'
Between two stints on the disabled list and a lack of run support, Fister (1-3) went into the game winless despite a 3.15 ERA in six starts. This time, he was pitching for the first time since May 28, when he had aggravated the ribcage strain that had cost him a month early in the season.
For the first time all year, he got through a game feeling healthy and comfortable, and it showed. Fister allowed just three hits and struck out six.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was thrilled to have Fister back in form, but wasn't going to feel too good until Sunday morning.
``It will be a long night for me, wondering what he is going to show up like tomorrow,' he said. ``He's a real good pitcher when he's right, and if he's right, he's going to get stronger. That will be something for us to look forward to.'
Colorado rookie Christian Friedrich (4-3) took the loss, giving up three runs on three hits and five walks in five innings. The Rockies have lost nine of 10.
Fister retired the first 11 batters before Carlos Gonzalez's infield single in the fourth. By that point, the Tigers had a 1-0 lead on Miguel Cabrera's 14th homer of the season.
``We're all working together and bringing something to the table to help the team,' Fister said. ``The defense spoke for itself tonight - we had guys laying out all over the place. This is the type of team win we needed, where all cylinders are clicking.'
The Tigers doubled their lead in the fourth when Friedrich walked Austin Jackson with the bases loaded.
Cabrera got to circle the bases in the fifth, too, thanks to a pair of misplays.
Friedrich (4-3) knocked down Cabrera's grounder, scrambled to recover and still had a chance to get the out at first. But Friedrich threw wildly and Cabrera scampered to third while catcher Wilin Rosario second baseman Chris Nelson and right fielder Michael Cuddyer chased down the ball.
Rosario got there first, but threw past Jordan Pacheco at third base, allowing Cabrera to score.
``I was upset because I didn't make the original play. That's a play you make 99 times out of 100,' Friedrich said. ``So I was running after the ball with my back to the runner, and I rushed things. I didn't see how much time I had until just after I released the throw.'
Said Colorado manager Jim Tracy: ``There were a lot of kids involved in that play, and once you start having to chase down a loose ball like that, things get out of kilter.'
``He doesn't score on that play if someone just grabs the ball and holds on to it, but young players try to do too much,' he said.
Prince Fielder made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
The Rockies got an unearned run in the ninth when Gonzalez doubled, took third on a throwing error and scored on Cuddyer's groundout.
NOTES: Fister has a 1.20 ERA at Comerica Park since joining the Tigers at last season's trade deadline. ... Despite their 1-10 interleague record this season, the Rockies still have the NL's best record against the AL since 2006, going 57-47. In the same span, the Tigers are 77-42, second in baseball to only the Red Sox. ... Detroit extended its franchise record to 133 games without being shut out. ... Tigers C Alex Avila, on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Monday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved