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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Detroit Free Press) -- The Tigers had one on and two out in the ninth inning, but Prince Fielder's blast to center off Nationals closer Rafael Soriano was caught at the warning track.

And that left the Tigers with a 5-4 loss Thursday to the Nationals at Nationals Park.

"I knew I had a good swing and I hit it decent," Fielder said. "I just got under it a little bit. It was going away from me a little bit and just missed it. You know, it's part of the game. Sometimes you miss it, sometimes you don't."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Fielder, who went 1-for-5, hit the ball hard but didn't get much to show for it.

"When he first hit it, I thought maybe, but I could tell the way (Denard) Span was going after it, that it was going to stay in the park," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "That's one of those that you hope it just keeps carrying by chance. Like I say, he hit it good."

The Tigers dug themselves a deep hole early in the game, falling behind 5-1 after two innings. Matt Tuiasosopo hit a pinch-hit three-run home run in the sixth to give the Tigers a chance.

Tigers starter Doug Fister had not allowed more than three earned runs in a game over his first six starts.

Fister threw 74 pitches over three innings and allowed four earned runs, eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts.

"He wasn't brutal but any means, but he wasn't sharp," Leyland said. "His curveball wasn't good like it normally is. Just one of those things. He just wasn't at his best."

Trailing 3-0 in the second inning, Fister singled to score a run. The hit snapped an 0-for-29 skid for Tigers pitchers at the plate.

With two on and two out in the top of the fourth trailing 5-1, Victor Martinez pinch-hit for Fister and struck out swinging.

"Those are no-brainers," Leyland said. "You get behind 5-1, you have to try to get back in the game. It's that simple."

With two out in the sixth and one on, Omar Infante had a bunt single. Tuiasosopo was brought in to pinch-hit for pitcher Darin Downs and hit a three-run home run to left center off Dan Haren to cut the Nationals' lead to 5-4.

It was Tuiasosopo's second home run of the season and his first career pinch-hit home run. It was the first pinch-hit home run for the Tigers since Alex Avila had one on Sept. 14, 2011 in Chicago against the White Sox.

"Just was looking for a pitch the middle of the zone," Tuiasosopo said. "and was able to get something that stayed middle. Not sure if it was a cutter that backed up or a splitty that just stayed up in the zone. Guys on the bench, we were saying once Dougie came out we had to be prepared every inning and so was just staying ready for them to call my name. Felt good to come through for the team."

Darin Downs, Luke Putkonen, Drew Smyly and Jose Valverde combined to allow one hit and one walk over five innings with five strikeouts for the Tigers.

Contact George Sipple: 313-223-4796 or gsipple@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @georgesipple.

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