By Ashley Dunkak

CBS DETROIT – Detroit Tigers closer Joe Nathan, the key addition to the bullpen this offseason, ran into trouble again Tuesday night, allowing two walks, two hits and four runs in a third of an inning.

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Tuesday’s loss was the third straight for the Tigers, who have lost 11 of their last 15. Nathan has now allowed eight earned runs in his last three outings, and his ERA is 6.86, remarkably bad for any pitcher but especially a six-time All-Star whose career ERA is 2.85.

Nathan said after Tuesday’s game that even pitching coach Jeff Jones told him bad luck has played a role in his recent struggles.

“Tough few outings for sure,” Nathan said. “I felt like the results didn’t match the way I threw the baseball. I felt like I had a pretty sharp slider. I think a lot of things just didn’t go my way that inning. No excuses, I got to be better, lot of bad luck out there too.

“Sometimes that’s all you can do is laugh,” Nathan added. “This game is – it’s an SOB sometimes. It’s tough. With us, results are so important. Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize, listen, results are not everything. Sometimes you have to just make a pitch and hope that’s enough.”

It has not been enough recently, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus did not betray too much concern with his postgame comments.

“Joe’s been very good for a very long time,” Ausmus said. “I expect him to be very good for the Tigers, and he expects himself to be very good, but even the best have rough times.”

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Ausmus would not commit to any consideration of having another reliever close games, but he did not rule out the possibility.

“I certainly wouldn’t answer that right now,” Ausmus said. “I would talk to Joe long before I made that public knowledge.”

Nathan said that in the past he has approached managers about taking him out of the closer role to give him a chance to work out some kinks without hurting the team. He has not given thought to doing that with the Tigers.

“Not at all. Not at all,” he said. “I’m throwing the ball way too good. Like I said, today was one of those days where baseball is a tough game and a funny game. I think most baseball people will see the results didn’t show how I threw the baseball tonight.”

Nathan, though disappointed with the loss, said his individual statistics are not what he is focused on.

“Right now, the most important thing in my mind and why I came to this baseball club is to be in first place, and I can care less if I go out there with an 18.00 ERA as long as at the end of the day we go to the playoffs and we’ve got a chance to go to the World Series,” Nathan said. “That’s why I came here. So if I have an 18 and we go to the World Series, I’m a happy camper.”

Another aspect that does not bother Nathan is the response of the Comerica Park crowd.

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“I don’t give a s— about that, pardon my French,” Nathan said. “They can boo me all the want. I am my own biggest critic. No one will put myself down more than I do. As much as they feel like they’re being tough on me, I’m way tougher on myself.”