DETROIT -

Ford Motor Co.'s sales fell 4 percent in July as it lost ground it gained last year when its Japanese rivals had low inventories.

Ford's best-seller, the F-Series pickup, was flat compared with last July.

Sales of the Escape small SUV fell 12 percent after the latest version was recalled for safety issues.

Ford's best performer in July was the Fusion sedan, which saw sales climb 21 percent.

The Ford Explorer SUV was up 15 percent.

But those increases couldn't make up for big declines elsewhere.

The Fiesta subcompact was down 23 percent and sales of Ford's Lincoln luxury brand fell 11 percent.

Ford said it was hurt because it decreased sales to government and rental fleets in July.

Fleet sales were down 16 percent.