Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera homered against Jake Peavy in a three-run fifth, the Tigers added two runs against the White Sox bullpen in the eighth to back the strong pitching of starter Doug Fister, and Detroit held on for a 5-3 victory before 26,504 fans at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday night.
Looking to extend their lead in the AL Central to a season-high four games, the Sox instead had it cut to two with games remaining against the Tigers on Wednesday night. Gavin Floyd will oppose the Tigers’ Max Scherzer. Chris Sale will start against the Tigers’ Justin Verlander in Thursday’s series finale.
Dewayne Wise homered in the first and Gordon Beckham hit his career-high 15th in the third but Fister did not allow any other hits seven innings of work.
Trailing 5-2, the Sox put Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit in trouble in the eighth with consecutive singles by Alexei Ramirez, Beckham and Alejandro De Aza (RBI), but Kevin Youkilis, after failing to bunt Beckham and De Aza to third and second, struck out. Wise followed with a strikeout and Paul Konerko grounded softly to second to end the inning.
The Tigers used the long ball against Peavy (10-11) in the fifth to take the Sox’ 2-0 lead away. Jackson hit a two-run homer and Cabrera belted his 36th of the season two batters later to make it 3-2.
Alex Avila singled in a run against Francisco Liriano in the eighth to make it 4-2, and Andy Dirks added an RBI single against Jesse Crain. Both runs were charged to Liriano, who was taken out of the rotation this week with Floyd coming off the disabled list.
Alex Rios led off the ninth against closer Jose Valverde, but Valverde retired A.J. Pierzynski, Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
Sandwiched around Cabrera’s homer were Peavy’s sixth and seventh strikeouts (Dirks and Prince Fielder), so Peavy appeared to have good stuff. The home run pitches were on thigh- and belt-high fastballs.
Fister’s stuff, particularly his curveball, was every bit as good. After Beckham’s homer, he walked Youkilis with one out and then proceded to retire 14 consecutive Sox through the seventh.
The Tigers had a chance to give Fister some breathing room when reliever Nate Jones walked the first two batters in the seventh, but Donnie Veal got Prince Fielder to line out with the bases loaded and Brett Myers struck out Delmon Young.
Aside from the home runs, Peavy allowed four singles and pitched well with nine strikeouts. He threw 117 pitches and was lifted with two out in the sixth after he walked Jhonny Peralta.