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Pelfrey pitches out of predicament; offense powers Sox over Tigers

White Sox starter Mike Pelfrey against the Detroit Tigers on Friday. Pelfrey picked up his second win of the season after pitching out of trouble in the fourth inning. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Three times in the span of a half-inning Friday night  White Sox right-hander Mike Pelfrey found himself in trouble, and on all three occasions he pitched his way out of it.

A third-inning, three-run double by Avisail Garcia staked Pelfrey to a two-run lead against the Tigers. But a Tyler Saladino throwing error and a Pelfrey walk backed the Sox against the wall in the fourth.  Just as it appeared the Tigers were about to erase the deficit, Pelfrey escaped danger.

It proved to be just what Pelfrey and the Sox needed.

Pelfrey struck out a season-high seven hitters, Garcia and Jose Abreu had three hits apiece and Melky Cabrera and Matt Davidson homered as the Sox ended a three-game skid with an 8-2 win over the Tigers, which concluded a long, rain-soaked day at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The game, which was delayed 1 hour, 25 minutes by rain, began more than 4½ hours after Game 1 of a doublehader was postponed until Saturday. The Sox and Tigers will again attempt to play a pair of games Saturday, weather permitting.

Yet for all of the waiting, Pelfrey’s performance was worth sticking around for against the team that released him with a year remaining on his two-year, $16 million deal.

“He’s been grinding since he got up here with us trying to give us innings and length,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He gave us five good innings of work and we took advantage of it and let everyone else do their jobs.”

Pelfrey (2-4) escaped the fourth inning when the Tigers put runners on second and third base with nobody out. But when Davidson threw out J.D. Martinez at the plate on a fielder’s choice, Pelfrey inched closer to getting out of a jam. A walk to Tyler Collins loaded the bases as the Tigers again threated.

But Pelfrey got John Hicks to line a ground ball to Abreu, who threw out Justin Upton at home for the second out. With the bases still loaded, Pelfrey fell behind in a 3-2 count to Andrew Romine, who still had a chance to eat into the Sox lead. Instead, Pelfrey got Romine to ground weakly to the mound, which completed the escape act that Renteria called “huge” after Friday’s victory.

Had he had his druthers, Pelfrey would not have made the fourth winning as demanding as it turned out to be.

“It was a lot harder than I would have liked it to have been,” Pelfrey said. “It was a grind. That’s a good team over there. My whole mindset was try to keep making pitches. We were able to get through it.”

Outside of allowing a fifth-inning solo home run to former Sox catcher Alex Avila that got the Tigers to within 3-2, Pelfrey was solid. He allowed four hits and walked one in five innings. The Sox backed up Pelfrey’s efforts by scoring twice in the sixth inning on Davidson’s solo home run and on Cabrera’s RBI single. Cabrera added an three-run homer in the eighth inning that capped a victory that ended after midnight.

“It was a long day, it was a very long day,” said Abreu, who extended his hitting streak to seven games in which he is hitting .484.

For Pelfrey, who faced his former team, the cancelation of Friday’s first game and the delay of the second made his job even more demanding. Pelfrey arrived Friday expecting to pitch the first game of the doubleheader. But when rain scrapped that game, Pelfrey began his preparations shortly after 5:30 p.m. – three hours before he threw his first pitch. But in the end – fourth-inning jam and all – getting the victory was worth the wait.

“It was like it was never-ending,” Pelfrey said. “Then the game took 3 ½ hours. Everything just kept getting longer. (We’re) glad we got it in. Glad we got a win.”

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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