DETROIT -- The Rangers have lost nine of their past 14 games. Third baseman Michael Young had the solution to what his team needs to do most."Stay the course," Young said after a 5-4 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday at Comerica Park. "Just stay the course. During a long season, the best teams are the most mentally tough teams. Those are the ones that win. Now is the time for us to show it. When you're not playing your best baseball, that's when you show how mentally tough you are. I look at this as an opportunity." The Rangers' third straight loss was decided for good when Alex Avila snapped a 3-3 tie with a sixth-inning home run off Matt Harrison and Ryan Raburn hit one off reliever Koji Uehara in the eighth. But late-inning home runs was not what had manager Ron Washington frustrated after the game. It what he's seeing from his offense, and it's not what he saw during a 12-game winning streak. "You've got to be able to execute," Washington said. "When you have the opportunity to scratch out runs, you've got to take advantage of it." Washington was referring to the second inning, when Young led off with an infield hit off Tigers starter Doug Fister and went to third on a broken-bat single by Nelson Cruz. In a scoreless game, that put runners on first and third, giving the Rangers a chance to take the lead. That's something they did consistently during their 12-game winning streak, when the Rangers had the lead after two innings in 10 of those 12 victories, and their starting pitching did the rest. They didn't make that happen on Wednesday. Instead, Fister got Mitch Moreland on a weak popup and Mike Napoli -- who came into the game hitting .354 with runners in scoring position-- grounded into an inning-ending double play. The Rangers lead the league in batting with runners in scoring position, but are hitting .214 in those situations in their past seven games after going 2-for-9 on Wednesday night. "We just need a little better execution," Washington said. "We put up as many hits  as they did. My offense is good enough to win, we just didn't do it. We just didn't get it done." Texas lost to Fister, who was making his first start since being acquired from Seattle. The Rangers know Fister well from his hard-luck days with the Mariners. They beat him, 4-0, on July 15 during the winning streak. They scored a run in each of the first two innings that day, and Colby Lewis combined with Neftali Feliz on a four-hit shutout. Fister, who won for the first time since May 30, didn't let them get that early lead this time. "He was very impressive," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I saw tonight what I saw on the opposite side. He keeps his poise pretty good, doesn't panic, made his pitches on a couple different occasions when he got in a little bit of mood." Harrison, on the other hand, struggled almost from the beginning. He couldn't control his fastball and was battling out of trouble in just about every inning. His defense turned three double plays behind him, and that allowed him to keep the Tigers from breaking it open early. "I was everywhere," Harrison said. "It was a battle from the beginning. I was struggling with my command and falling behind guys. It got better after the second inning. But it was really frustrating to come back and tie the game, then give up the home run." The southpaw was one pitch away from getting out of the sixth when Avila clobbered a 1-2 changeup deep into the right-field seats. "Other than that, I thought Harry did a heckuva job," Washington said. "He was tough out there today." Raburn's home run made it 5-3 and negated a solo home run that Napoli hit off of Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth. That made it a one-run game, dropping the Rangers to 12-18 in one-run affairs this season. Texas remained one game ahead of Los Angeles in the American League West. The Angels have not been able to pull even with the Rangers since July 5. "We're grinding, trying to get back on track," said second baseman Ian Kinsler. "Stretches like this happen during a season, and there's never a good time for it to happen. Once we get it going again, we'll be fine."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.