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Doug Fister takes hard liner off head and loss

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Doug Fister takes hard liner off head and loss

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Doug Fister took the Giants' best shot without even flinching.

Fister overcame a line-drive single off his head to take a shutout bid into the seventh inning for Detroit before the Tigers lost Game 2 of the World Series 2-0 to San Francisco on Thursday night.

``I'm fine,'' Fister said. ``I got a little bump. No damage. Just a matter of I threw a changeup that he squared up and it came right back at me.''

Fister ended up with the hard-luck loss when he allowed a leadoff single to Hunter Pence in the seventh and reliever Drew Smyly was unable to strand him in part because of a perfect bunt that never rolled foul.

It was remarkable that Fister was even in the game that long after it looked as if he could have been knocked out in a scary moment in the second inning. Gregor Blanco hit a line drive that struck Fister just above the right ear with a runner on first and two outs. The ball ricocheted into short center for a single.

``Whoa!'' umpire Dan Iassogna said as he popped out from behind the plate, adding: ``Doug, you OK?'' when he got to the mound.

``I was scared to death when it happened,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``I didn't really realize exactly how it hit him. It kind of grazed I want to say the side of his head, the back of his head. It was a scary moment, obviously, but he was fine.''

Fister looked unfazed by the blow and remained in the game after being checked out by a trainer, Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones.

``They asked me the typical concussion questions. He obviously saw in my eyes I was OK,'' Fister said. ``I'm not concerned. I have a minor bump. According to my dad my whole life his saying has always been if I got hit in the head I'd be OK. That's how I take it.''

Fister answered every question correctly on the mound and even added that he would get the third out.

``He didn't seem scared,'' first baseman Prince Fielder said. ``He definitely showed some toughness.''

Fister then walked Brandon Crawford to load the bases but escaped the jam by retiring fellow pitcher Madison Bumgarner on a soft looper to shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander didn't allow another hit until Pablo Sandoval singled with two outs in the sixth, retiring 12 straight batters after the walk to Crawford.

``It was scary at the moment but then he seemed to shake it off,'' catcher Gerald Laird said. ``This guy's tough. I was surprised. The way (the batter) hit it and the way it hit his head, it was scary. For him to bounce back and pitch like he did, that says a lot about him.''

Leyland sent Fister back out for the seventh with 108 pitches to face the right-handed hitting Pence before a run of three straight lefties came to the plate. Pence ended Fister's night with a single to left field on his 114th pitch.

That proved costly. Smyly walked Brandon Belt, and Blanco reached on a bunt single that Smyly, Laird and third baseman Miguel Cabrera tried to will foul. But the ball tantalizingly stayed on the dirt between the foul line and infield grass before rolling to a stop in fair territory, loading the bases with no outs for the Giants.

Leyland chose to play the middle of the infield back to avoid a big inning. But that decision allowed a run to score when Brandon Crawford bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.

``It's not debatable to me,'' Leyland said. ``Some people might debate that, but I felt we had to take our best shot to come out of it with one run because if we don't score, it doesn't make any difference anyway.''

Fister allowed one run and four hits with one walk with three strikeouts. He became the first Tigers pitcher to last at least five innings in five straight postseason starts. But he is winless in three postseason outings this year because the bullpen blew leads his first two times on the mound.

``It was a tough night,'' Fister said. ``Obviously we had a couple of balls that didn't go our way. It's OK. We're going to come back.''

The Tigers now find themselves in a daunting 2-0 hole because the offense generated nothing against Bumgarner and the bullpen. Only one World Series team has overcome such a deficit since the New York Mets did it in 1986.

Detroit's best chance at scoring was thwarted by another questionable decision. With the burly Fielder at first base and no outs in the second, Delmon Young grounded a double down the left-field line. Blanco picked up the ball after it caromed off the fence in foul territory and threw to second baseman Marco Scutaro near third base.

Third-base coach Gene Lamont waved Fielder home and he was tagged out by catcher Buster Posey just before touching the plate. Fielder had been sent home from first just three times on 10 doubles. The fourth one proved costly.

``We wanted to be aggressive, and I think he got just a little overaggressive, and it was a bang-bang play,'' Leyland said.

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Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

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USA TODAY Sports

Interested teams have begun reaching out to John Carlson

Free agency does not start until July 1, but John Carlson's agent is already taking calls from other interested teams.

The interview period began at 12 a.m. on Sunday morning, which means teams are now able to reach out to any potential free agents, but no contracts can be signed until July 1. While Brian MacLellan said Friday that a new deal with Carlson to keep him in Washington was "really close," Carlson's agent, Rick Curran, has made it clear there was no deal in place yet as of Sunday.

So does this mean Carlson now has one foot out the door?

Not necessarily.

At this point in the negotiation, Carlson has a major advantage and that advantage is time. Sunday's interview period is just another way to hold the Caps' feet to the fire. The closer we get to July 1, the more pressure the team is under to get a deal done.

But the Caps still have some leverage too.

“I love it here and all that,” Carlson said during on breakdown day. “I want to stay here, but there's more to it than that.”

By rule, as his current team, the Caps are the only team that can offer Carlson an eight-year deal.

So Carlson may have turned up the heat a few degrees on the Caps, but it's not time for fans to worry just yet.

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Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

Nationals look to avoid sweep against Phillies on Sunday night

WASHINGTON -- Having already won their first series at Nationals Park since April 2016, the Philadelphia Phillies will go for the sweep of Washington on Sunday night.

Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.08 ERA) faces Nationals right-hander Jefry Rodriguez (0-0, 4.66).

Pivetta was drafted by the Nationals in 2013 and went to the Phillies in 2015 as part of the Jonathan Papelbon trade.

After struggling for three straight starts -- giving up 13 runs in 14 innings -- Pivetta allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1/3 innings of a no-decision against the St. Louis Cardinals last time out, striking out a career-high 13 batters.

"That's some of the best stuff I've seen him have all year," catcher Andrew Knapp told mlb.com. "The curveball was electric."

Pivetta got 11 swings and misses with the curveball.

"It was nice to have it back," Pivetta told mlb.com. "It all started with my delivery. I was staying up through it, not trying to rush too much and it worked out."

It his first start -- and second big-league appearance -- the 24-year-old Rodriguez picked up a win against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. He allowed five runs, four hits and three walks in five innings.

Rodriguez and Satuday's losing pitcher, Erick Fedde, are filling in for injured starters Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson.

The Phillies have outscored the Nationals 17-5 in the fist two games of the series. On Saturday, Maikel Franco had four hits and Carlos Santana homered to back Aaron Nola in a 5-3 victory.

"That was just a tremendous all-around baseball game," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Franco. "It's so interesting how we've been looking for him to be not just a hitter but a defender and a baserunner and an all-around athlete."

Franco drove in a run and scored twice, including the go-ahead run when he scored just ahead of the tag on Jesmuel Valentin's sacrifice fly.

The Phillies, who have won six of seven, pounded out double-digit hits for the second day in a row in Washington.

"They have a lot of patient hitters," Fedde said of the Phillies. "I think that's what makes it tough. Guys aren't swinging at bunch of junk, so you have to attack them."

The Phillies have now won four straight series for the first time since May 2016 and are 2-0 in what will be a stretch of 10 games against the Nationals and the New York Yankees.

Anthony Rendon homered and Daniel Murphy had a two-run single for Washington, which has lost three of four while scoring nine runs.

"Look, I've got all the confidence in the world we're going to start hitting," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We'll start scoring some runs. Right now, the bullpen is a little beat up. We've got to get them going again."

Rendon is doing his part. In his las 15 games, he is batting .382 with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs.

Hellickson (right groin strain) will make a rehab start Sunday for Class A Potomac and then is expected to rejoin the Nationals' rotation.

Hernandez said first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) is about a week from beginning a rehab assignment.