From Comcast SportsNetDETROIT (AP) -- Doug Fister was breezing along after striking out nine straight batters and setting an American League record.Detroit led by four runs in the eighth inning -- but for the 2012 Tigers, nothing has come easy.The Tigers nearly wasted Fister's dazzling streak, blowing a big lead late before beating Kansas City 5-4 on Thursday when Alex Avila drove home the winning run in the ninth with a bases-loaded grounder.Detroit's lead in the AL Central grew to two games when the slumping Chicago White Sox lost to Tampa Bay 3-2."Getting a win is big," Avila said. "We have to be able to win tight games like this. It's the only way we're going to be able to get in the playoffs and go far in the playoffs."Detroit finished 50-31 at home this season -- and will now try to wrap up the division on the road. The Tigers play three games at Minnesota, followed by a season-ending three-game series at Kansas City.Fister came within one strikeout of matching Tom Seaver's major league record of 10 in a row. He struck out Salvador Perez to end the top of the fourth, starting a streak that didn't end until Perez grounded out to the shortstop on a two-strike pitch in the seventh."It's crazy, to go through a whole lineup and strike everybody out," Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "And I don't think he threw more than four pitches to any of the batters."The AL record of eight consecutive strikeouts had been accomplished several times, most recently by Kansas City's Blake Stein on June 17, 2001.After Perez grounded out for the third out of the seventh, first baseman Prince Fielder put his arm around Fister as they headed back to the dugout."I said, Congratulations, man. You made history.' He was like, What are you doing?'" Fielder said. "He was locked in so it was kind of like, Get away from me.' I was like, All right, they'll tell you."At that point, Fister had retired 16 straight hitters and Detroit led 4-0 -- but he was oblivious to the strikeout record."Honestly, I had no idea," Fister said. "(Fielder) was yelling at me to step off during the inning, and I kind of looked at him. Normally, he'll do that, to slow me down, if I'm getting too quick. ... I thought that was kind of what he was doing there. He just said, Hey, step off.' I look at him, and he kept looking at me, and he said, Aw, I'll tell you later.'"Fister's performance almost went for naught. The Royals scored three runs in the eighth, and Billy Butler tied it in the ninth with a solo homer off Joaquin Benoit (5-3).Fielder led off the Detroit ninth with a chopper that went past the mound and charging shortstop Tony Abreu. The hefty slugger made it all the way to second for a double on a ball that only ended up a few feet beyond the infield.Delmon Young was intentionally walked, and pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago bunted into a forceout at third, leaving runners at first and second. Kelvin Herrera replaced Tim Collins (5-4) on the mound and got Jhonny Peralta to hit what looked like a potential double play grounder to third, but Mike Moustakas misplayed it for his third error of the game -- and Kansas City's fifth.Avila hit a full-count pitch to first baseman Brayan Pena, who made a diving stop and touched the bag, but had no play at home."Pena still made a great play on that one," Fielder said. "Baseball is really hard because even if you're good, you have to be a little lucky, too."Fister finished with 10 strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings. He allowed two earned runs and five hits.Kansas City's Luis Mendoza allowed two earned runs in seven innings.Francoeur hit an RBI double in the eighth, Johnny Giavotella added an RBI groundout, and Abreu, pinch-hitting, drove in a run with a single to make it 4-3.Detroit took a 4-0 lead thanks in part to four Kansas City errors in the first two innings.Moustakas was charged with two errors on one grounder by Quintin Berry -- one for mishandling it and another for a bad throw. Fielder drove in a run later in the first with a single, advancing to second on an error by left fielder Alex Gordon.Young hit a sacrifice fly, and Gordon threw Fielder out at home on a single by Andy Dirks to end the inning.Berry's two-run triple in the second made it 4-0.NOTES:Detroit closer Jose Valverde was sick and unavailable. ... Royals 1B Eric Hosmer left the game with a strained right shoulder. ... The Tigers play at Minnesota on Friday night. LHP Drew Smyly (4-3) will start because of an injury to Max Scherzer. Minnesota will counter with LHP Scott Diamond (12-8).
SAN FRANCISCO — If the Giants were in a different situation, Tuesday night’s loss was the kind that really would sting for a few days. As is, it was simply loss No. 77 in a stunningly bad season.
The Giants went down 4-3 in somewhat familiar fashion, with their offense failing to break through and their bullpen coming up short. But this loss, No. 77, was also about small mistakes, both mental and physical. Let’s count down some of the ways the Giants went down:
--- Gorkys Hernandez, a late addition to the lineup because Hunter Pence has a tight hamstring, dropped a fly ball in deep right in the fourth inning. That cost Jeff Samardzija a run and a few more pitches. Bruce Bochy said Pence likely will be off Wednesday and then return Friday in Arizona.
--- Bochy pulled Samardzija after just 89 pitches, and it was certainly peculiar in the moment. The thing is, the intention fit in with the reality of this season. Samardzija has carried a heavy load and Bochy was trying to protect his arm a bit.
“The inning before, he logged some pitches,” Bochy said. “I’ve worked him pretty hard and I’m really looking after him as much as anything. We’re trying to give some guys a break and it didn’t work out. We had some guys lined up in the seventh, eighth, ninth — it just didn’t work out in the seventh.”
--- You can’t really argue with protecting a big-money pitcher in a down year. But Bochy probably wishes he had chosen someone other than Albert Suarez, who was fresher than others but has now given up runs in six of seven appearances. Suarez turned a one-run lead into a one-run deficit. It was more glaring when Kyle Crick entered and pitched 1 1/3 sharp innings.
--- The Giants still had a chance — it helped that the Brewers took a dominant Josh Hader out of the game just because he’s a lefty and Nick Hundley bats right-handed — and they put two on in the eighth. Denard Span hit a soft single to right and Phil Nevin waved Hundley, who has catcher’s legs. He was out by a mile. Bochy said he was fine with forcing the issue there, although that’s a call Nevin probably wants back.
Another twist on the play: Bochy could have put speedy Orlando Calixte in for Hundley and then moved Pablo Sandoval over to first in the next inning, with Calixte at third. He didn’t second-guess that decision.
“He was out pretty easily,” Bochy said. “I don’t know if a little more speed would have helped out.”
--- In the bottom of the ninth, Kelby Tomlinson singled. He was promptly caught stealing second with the heart of the order coming up. Again, a decision that went the visiting team’s way.
Those moments could be defended or second-guessed. On another night, maybe they all work out and the Giants win 3-2, or 6-4. On this night, it was simply a familiar script, and loss No. 77.
SAN FRANCISCO — Just when it seemed the Giants were starting to find some continuity in their bullpen, they have taken a couple of steps back.
Two days after Hunter Strickland imploded late, Albert Suarez gave up the lead. The Giants lost 4-3 to the Brewers in a game that dragged. The Brewers did open the window a bit in the bottom of the eighth and Denard Span bounced a single to right with two outs and two on. Phil Nevin waved Nick Hundley all the way around third and Hundley was thrown out by 10 feet to end the inning.
Anyway, here are five other things to know …
—- Just one of Jeff Samardzija’s six innings went 1-2-3, and Bruce Bochy turned to the bullpen after just 89 pitches. Samardzija was charged with two runs, one of them earned. It was a little odd that he came out so early.
—- Suarez entered in the seventh with a one-run lead and gave up two runs before being lifted. He has allowed a run in six of his last seven appearances.
—- Brandon Crawford momentarily gave the Giants the lead with a two-run homer, his 11th. He is definitely starting to hit his stride. Crawford has four extra base hits and six RBI on the homestand.
—- Why is it so hard for the Giants to sign power bats? Well, just ask Eric Thames. He hit a 433-foot blast to lead off the third but ended up with just a triple when it bounced off the top of the bricks in right-center. Per Statcast data, Thames is the first player in the last three years to hit a ball more than 430 feet and not get a homer. He was stranded at third.
—- Over in Sacramento, a couple of rehab appearances went as planned. Johnny Cueto threw three scoreless innings for the River Cats; he will make at least one more minor league start. Joe Panik was 0-for-2 in five innings; he will join the San Jose Giants on Wednesday for another rehab game.