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In a critical game for both teams but especially the Tigers, the White Sox took a 5-4 victory in the two clubs' last scheduled meeting this season, and now hold a three-game lead in the American League Central.
Monday afternoon on the South Side of Chicago, the White Sox beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 in a makeup game, and extended their lead over the second-place Tigers to three full games in the American League Central.
The Tigers went ahead 3-0 in the third inning, thanks to a few seeing-eye singles (or "ducksnorts", as Hawk Harrelson calls them). After rookie Jose Quintana struck out Prince Fielder for the second out of the inning, Delmon Young floated a single into short left-center fielder, plating two runners for the three-run lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the White Sox mounted a threat of their own, loading the bases against Doug Fister with just one out. But Fister escaped by striking out first Kevin Youkilis and then Adam Dunn, both on high fastballs, while on-deck hitter Paul Konerko could only watch with wistfulness.
But in the fourth, the Sox loaded the bases against Fister again, and this time they took advantage. First, Gordon Beckham got hit by a pitch to force in Chicago's first run. Next, DeWayne Wise lined a single into center field to drive in two more runs. Fister finally escaped when Jhonny Peralta intercepted Youkilis's soft line drive on its way to left field. But after four frames, it was 3-3.
In the fifth, Quintana lasted only two batters. Miguel Cabrera led off with a double, and when Quintana was slow covering first base on Prince Fielder's grounder to the first baseman, manager Robin Ventura yanked him. The move didn't pay off immediately, as reliever Nate Jones hung an off-speed pitch to Delmon Young, who shot an RBI single into center field. But Jones recovered by getting three quick outs to limit the damage.
And once more, the Sox responded in the bottom of the inning. Dunn's single and Konerko's double knocked Fister out of the game, with Al Alburquerque taking over. After a walk and a line-out, Dayan Viciedo hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop. But with Rios going hard into second base, Omar Infante's throw to first base went astray and two runs scored.
That made it 5-4, and that's how it ended. The White Sox nearly scored an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on Adam Dunn's (almost) sacrifice fly, but the runner (Wise) trying to reach third base was tagged out before the runner (Beckham) trying to score touched the plate. According to the umpires, at least.
But that play proved irrelevant, thanks to Chicago's bullpen.
After giving up that hit to Delmon Young, Nate Jones was perfect.
In the seventh, Donnie Veal came into the game for one reason: keep Prince Fielder from tying the game with one swing. Veal struck Fielder out; he's now retired 24 straight left-handed batters.
In the eighth, Brett Myers retired the side with only 10 pitches.
In the ninth, Myers retired pinch-hitter Quintin Berry. With Andy Dirks coming on as a pinch-hitter, Robin Ventura summoned left-hander Matt Thornton from the bullpen, and Thornton struck out Dirks on four pitches.
That brought up Austin Jackson, which brought in White Sox closer Addison Reed from the bullpen. Despite hanging a second-pitch slider that Jackson fouled off, Reed earned his 27th save of the season when Jackson lifted a routine fly ball to right field.
The White Sox are now 7-1 this season when Tom "Wimpy" Paciorek fills in for Steve "Stonie" Stone. They've also got a three-game lead over the Tigers, and both teams have only 16 games left to play. Oh, and they won't see each other again this season, barring a tie after 162 games.