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Mike Fiers might be pitching his way into a pennant chase.

The Detroit right-hander worked impressively into the seventh inning Saturday
night Wil Lutz
, and Jose Iglesias homered and drove in four runs to lift
the Tigers to a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Fiers has been sharp lately, and after lowering his ERA to 3.49, he’s looking
more and more like someone the rebuilding Tigers might trade to a contender.

”You see it. You see your name pop up here and there,” Fiers said. ”I’ve just
got to keep my mind focused on baseball and pitching and just go out there every
fifth day.”

The major league-leading Red Sox lost for just the second time in 15 games,
and their AL East edge over the New York Yankees slipped to 4 1/2 games.

Fiers (7-6) had his first scoreless outing since his Tigers debut April 8,
when he beat the Chicago White Sox 1-0 in Detroit’s only other shutout this
season. This time, he allowed seven hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings,
striking out six.

Brian Johnson (1-3) gave up two unearned runs and five hits in five innings
for Boston. He struck out five.

Detroit took the lead in the second after Victor Martinez reached on an error
by third baseman Rafael Devers, playing his first game since being reinstated
from the disabled list. Devers fielded Martinez’s grounder well behind third and
his throw went past first, enabling Martinez to arrive safely.

That miscue proved costly when Iglesias came up with two outs and hit a
two-run double, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Fiers was with the World Series champion Astros last year, but did not pitch
in the postseason. He made one appearance in the playoffs for Houston in

He’s making a nice case for another chance this season. Fiers threw only two
balls through the first two innings Saturday, and he allowed three runs or fewer
for the ninth time in his last 10 starts. He struck out Xander Bogaerts for the
third out of the fifth with runners on first and third.

Boston threatened again in the sixth, but with two on JaCoby Jones was able
to run down Jackie Bradley Jr.’s drive at the warning track in left field. In
the bottom of the inning Jonathan
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, Jeimer Candelario hit a sacrifice fly to make it
3-0, and Iglesias added a two-run homer .

Fiers exited with runners at the corners in the seventh. Alex Wilson got
Bogaerts to ground into a double play, ending the inning.

Boston star Mookie Betts had two hits, raising his big league-leading average
to .355. He also made a superb catch in right field in the third, reaching above
the wall to catch Leonys Martin’s drive.

”I really needed that,” Johnson said. ”We’re so lucky to have this outfield.
It is almost scary how many times they make plays like that. They almost seem
routine, but they really aren’t.”

The Red Sox have been held to one run so far in this series by Detroit,
although they did win the opener 1-0 on Friday night.

”Boston’s scored one run in two games, and that’s hard to do,” Tigers manager
Ron Gardenhire said. ”That says a lot about our pitching staff.”


Red Sox: Devers (left shoulder inflammation) went 1 for 4. … 2B Brock Holt,
who left Friday’s game with a bruised knee, was out of the lineup. Manager Alex
Cora said he’d like to give Holt the weekend off. … DH-OF J.D. Martinez had the
day off after running into the wall while making a catch Friday. ”These guys
that make the All-Star Game, they really don’t have an All-Star break,” Cora
said. ”He’s getting the day off because he ran into the wall Janoris
Jenkins Jersey
, but I think it’s a good day off for him


Fiers wanted a chance to face Martinez, his college teammate from Nova
Southeastern in Florida. It didn’t happen.

”I’ve already texted him,” Fiers said. ”All my friends have texted him, too.
They’re not going to let him off easy.”


Boston ace Chris Sale (10-4) starts the series finale Sunday against Blaine
Hardy (3-2). Sale is 5-1 with a 0.94 ERA in his last seven starts.

MILWAUKEE — Ryan Braun will be back in the starting lineup Sunday when the
Milwaukee Brewers wrap up their four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals at
Miller Park.

Braun left the team ahead of their scheduled game in Pittsburgh Wednesday
morning to get an injection on his right thumb — a process he undergoes every
few months after a nerve issue in the thumb robbed him of his power in 2014.

Braun returned to the team Thursday ahead of the series opener against St.
Louis but despite being ready and available, according to manager Craig
Counsell, Braun has yet to appear in a game since coming back.

“Ryan is doing fine, he’s doing great,” Counsell said Saturday before the
Brewers’ 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. “I just think that if we can give him more
time, great, that works out for both of us in that perspective. He’ll play

With Braun sidelined, Eric Thames has seen most of the action in left field,
a move that allows Counsell to keep hot-hitting Jesus Aguilar at first base.

Putting Thames in left also allowed the Brewers the flexibility to option
slumping outfielder Domingo Santana to Triple-A Colorado Springs Saturday

The 25-year-old Santana hit 30 home runs in a breakout 2017 campaign but with
his playing time limited after Milwaukee added Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich
during the offseason, Santana hasn’t made the most of his limited opportunities.
He was batting .249 with three home runs, 17 RBIs and a .667 slugging percentage
while going more than two series without a start.

“We need to get Domingo going Travis Kelce
,” Counsell said. “At some point, we’re going to need
Domingo. We’d both prefer he’d be rolling and clicking when that time comes.
It’s tough to do when you’re not playing that much.

“Eric and ‘Aggie’ are playing well. We’re trying to find ways to get them
both in the lineup. That’s a factor in this.”

To replace Santana on the active roster, Milwaukee recalled infielder Brad
Miller from Colorado Springs. That move could help the Brewers address another
troubling situation: The season-long offensive struggles of shortstop Orlando

Arcia is batting .201 with a .234 on-base percentage this season but has
remained in Counsell’s starting lineup on a regular basis because of his stellar
ability on defense and because the Brewers lacked other viable options.

Eric Sogard has struggled at the plate this season, too, batting .146 with a
.255 OBP. Counsell prefers to keep Jonathan Villar at second base, where he
moved after Arcia was promoted two years ago and Tyler Saladino, who performed
well enough after joining the team in May for the Brewers to send Arcia to
Triple-A is out indefinitely with a serious ankle sprain.

“Brad has played all over the field,” Counsell said. “He played a lot of
shortstop for a while, then he played a lot of second base, then a lot of first
base. So, he has moved around in different years, but it’s been a while since he
played shortstop.”

One thing that has been constant for Milwaukee this season is right-hander
Jhoulys Chacin.

As has been the case for most of his career, Chacin has been especially
effective at home this season where he’s posted a 2.31 ERA in six starts at
Miller Park.

Overall, he’s made a team-leading 16 starts this season and is 6-2 with a
3.18 ERA. He’s held opponents to a .231 average and a 1.24 WHIP while striking
out 66 in 87 2/3 innings.

“He’s pitching Phil Simms
,” Counsell said. “He’s got some cunning and some craftiness
out there, as well as good stuff.”

The Cardinals will be trying to get a split of the series after Yadier Molina
hit two homers Saturday. The Cardinals dropped the first two games by committing
four errors Thursday and allowing a game-ending homer to Aguilar Friday.

Molina has five homers in his last six games and guided Miles Mikolas through
6 2/3 strong innings.

“What he’s doing behind the plate is willpower,” St. Louis Mike Matheny said.
“Being able to handle pain and discomfort. He’s smarter at the plate. He has
such a great idea, and he’s dangerous, obviously. It’s hard to say, if he kept
playing, where he’d be right now in the home run column and a number of

Right-hander Luke Weaver gets the nod for the Cardinals as they try to build
momentum after snapping a three-game losing streak.

Weaver will be looking for his first victory since May 11 when he threw five
shutout innings in a 9-5 victory at San Diego. In seven starts since that
outing, Weaver is 0-4 with a 4.46 ERA and has allowed four runs in each of his
last three starts while recording only one out past the fifth inning.

He’s 2-2 with a 4.41 ERA in six career starts against the Brewers with a 2-2
mark and 3.68 ERA in four starts at Miller Park, where he lasted four innings
and took the loss after giving up four runs on four hits in an 8-3 loss on May

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