BY TONI GINNETTI
For the Sun-Times
Few would question the Detroit Tigers’ ability to stay in the thick of the American League Central race, even after an eight-game losing streak in the last two weeks dropped their record to .500.
‘‘These guys are tough, and they’re a bit banged up,’’ White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘They’re missing some guys, but they have a deep lineup. They can fill guys in, they can move them around in different spots.’’
It’s getting more difficult to say the same about the Sox, who brought a wealth of expectations into the season after an active winter.
With a third of the season gone, the Sox have been above .500 once — on May 18, when their six-game winning streak had them at 18-17.
They’re 7-13 since after dropping the rubber game of a three-game series Sunday to the Tigers 6-4.
The Sox led until the sixth, when the Tigers got to Jeff Samardzija (4-4) for three runs, including two home runs.
The Sox scored three in the first inning, one in the second, then no more.
‘‘It was nice jumping out early [against Tigers starter Alfredo Simon], but after that, he got into a good zone,’’ Ventura said.
‘‘We didn’t have a lot of good swings after that. You have to be a little more selective [at the plate].’’
The Sox’ sputtering offense had only three hits in the last seven innings, a disturbing pattern.
‘‘The offense needs to do more,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘It’s just been inconsistent. You expect more out of it.’’
The Sox scored in the first and second inning for the first time in 2015, and Avisail Garcia homered in the first inning with two men on.
But when Geovany Soto doubled in the fourth, he was thrown out at third when he tried to advance on Carlos Sanchez’s grounder to short. And when Adam Eaton doubled to lead off the fifth, he never advanced.
‘‘It’s tough, but it’s baseball,’’ said Jose Abreu, who went 1-for-4. ‘‘You try to fight back, and they played well today. That happens. You have to keep working and keep up the fight.
‘‘In the first three innings, [Simon] got some pitches up in the zone, but then he made an adjustment, and he did well.’’
Samardzija blamed himself for not keeping the Tigers’ potent offense in check.
‘‘You can’t take a deep breath,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘You’ve got to keep attacking them and mixing your speeds. They showed what they can do.’’
The Tigers were 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position; the Sox went 1-for-7.
The defending AL Central champs’ record also is back above .500 (30-28). The Sox continue to trail the division at 25-30.
‘‘Obviously, no one’s happy,’’ Samardzija said.
‘‘We’ve got to win those games. We’re all pros here. We’re going to show up tomorrow and win a ballgame.’’
The surprising Houston Astros are up next, but the Sox took two of three from them last week.
‘‘It’s a game-to-game approach,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘You’ve got to take every one separately, and you can’t let one roll into the next. You’ve got to work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone and just keep playing.
‘‘Sometimes balls will not bounce your way for a day, two days, however long. You just keep going until it bounces the other way. There’s no quit. Everyone’s going to keep fighting, and there’s a lot of baseball left.’’