HOUSTON -- Mike Fiers is the only player to throw a no-hitter at Minute Maid Park, but the right-hander didn't have the same magic on Friday as he pitched for the first time against his former team.Fiers, who led the Astros in innings pitched last year and spent two and
HOUSTON -- Mike Fiers is the only player to throw a no-hitter at Minute Maid Park, but the right-hander didn't have the same magic on Friday as he pitched for the first time against his former team.
Fiers, who led the Astros in innings pitched last year and spent two and a half seasons in Houston, was still serviceable, giving up three runs on nine hits over six innings as the Tigers' slide continued in a 3-0 loss. It was Detroit's fifth straight defeat and 19th in their last 23 games.
"It was part nerve-wracking, part exciting," said Fiers. "They had a lot of good swings and put pressure on me. They've seen me pitch. Maybe they picked something up. They got to me early and kept the lead."
Scoring runs has been a struggle for the Tigers, and the opening game of a three-game series against the reigning World Series champions was no exception. Detroit put plenty of runners on base, but it couldn't bring them in against Dallas Keuchel (7-8), who tossed six innings.
"They have a lot of great hitters over there," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We did our thing and held them to three runs. Unfortunately, we didn't get anything on the board.
"We are young and we don't have a lot of experienced hitters in the lineup. We need to get a couple of big hits, which we haven't been able to do."
The Tigers left the bases full in the sixth following a one-out single by John Hicks, a Nicholas Castellanos walk and a single by James McCann. In the third, two base runners were stranded after Ronny Rodriguez, who had two of Detroit's seven hits, and Jeimer Candelario opened the inning with singles.
"It's frustrating. We've had our opportunities," said first baseman John Hicks, who finished 1-for-4. "We had plenty of opportunities tonight. We just have to come up with a big hit. It's frustrating when you're not scoring runs. As a hitter, that's what you're supposed to do. We have to do better."
Most of the damage against Fiers came in the first inning, when Alex Bregman, who will participate in Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby, hit his 20th home run to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
Fiers (6-6) did not walk a batter and struck out two. The Astros touched him for two hits in each of the first two innings, and in the third, Fiers allowed his last run when Bregman, Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel opened the inning with singles.
But Fiers, who was far from brilliant, kept the Tigers in the game.
"He's a good pitcher and he knows how to change speeds, but that club knows him," Gardenhire said. "I think that makes it tougher on him. I thought he handled himself well and gave us a chance. He made a lot of great pitches."
The Tigers (40-56) have dropped 13 of their last 15 road games and are 15-33 on the road this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Wasted opportunity: The first two Tigers reached base in the fifth inning, but they couldn't cut into the Astros' 3-0 lead. Victor Martinez opened the inning by reaching first on a throwing error by Altuve. Rodriguez followed with a single, putting runners at first and second. But Candelario struck out swinging and JaCoby Jones hit into an inning-ending double play, 6-3.
Fiers and Francisco Liriano will receive their 2017 World Series rings as members of last year's Astros club prior to Saturday's game.
"It was a dream to be part of that team last year," Fiers said. "It was fun to come to the ballpark every day."
Michael Fulmer will make his 19th start of the season and second in his career at Minute Maid Park on Saturday when the Tigers meet the Astros at 4:10 p.m. ET. Against the Rangers on Sunday, Fulmer took the loss, allowing three runs on five hits in seven innings. The Detroit right-hander will be opposed by Houston's Gerrit Cole.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston.