CHICAGO (AP) — The class of the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers were no match Monday night for the ace of the division’s last-place team.
Left-hander Chris Sale was back in form for the White Sox, and at times, just plain nasty against Detroit.
Sale (8-11) scattered nine hits in his fourth complete game of the season, and Chicago overcame Miguel Cabrera’s fourth homer in four games to beat the Tigers 6-2.
Josh Phegley, Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez singled in runs in a three-run fifth inning as Chicago handed Detroit its third loss in four games and snapped the Tigers’ three game-winning streak over the White Sox.
“We faced an All-Star pitcher,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought we gave him good at-bats. But he was good, real good tonight.
“Tonight he was better than we were. You’ve got to be real stingy when you play against a guy like that. Tonight we just weren’t stingy enough.”
Sale, who was 17-8 last season, has suffered from lack of run support this season as the White Sox have sunk to the bottom of the AL Central. But after spotting the Tigers a 2-0 lead on single runs in the first and second innings, he was in command the rest of the way en route to his fifth career complete game.
The 24-year-old struck out six and walked none, winning his second straight start after going 1-9 in his previous 11.
“He’s in his own world,” said Detroit’s Torii Hunter, who went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. “He’s definitely the best lefty in the game. You saw my swing out there. It wasn’t fun. I was trying to see the ball, but I couldn’t see it. It was nasty.”
Cabrera went 2 for 4 with a homer in the first. The AL leader in batting, RBIs and runs scored is second in homers with 37.
Brayan Pena doubled in Detroit’s other run. The Tigers have won 17 of their last 21, and 26 of 36 dating to July 2.
Tigers starter Doug Fister (10-6) gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings, after facing just nine hitters and allowing one hit through the first three.
Fister lost following a run of five straight quality starts. He was 4-0 during that span and allowed just seven runs in 34 innings.
He admitted having mechanical issues on the mound.
“I didn’t do my job,” Fister said. “I’ve got to go out and give them a chance to win, especially against the great pitcher that we’re facing tonight.”
Beckham and Jeff Keppinger each had three hits. Phegley added a second RBI single and Alejandro De Aza hit a sacrifice fly in a two-run eighth that put away the game and gave Sale the best run support he’s enjoyed this season.
“Obviously we wish we could give (Sale) a better record right now,” Beckham said. “His numbers match up against everybody.”
The White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak against Detroit. They are just 14-34 overall against the division this season and have lost 23 of 28 to AL Central opponents.
Chicago scored three times in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. After Keppinger led off with a double, Phegley, Beckham and Ramirez all delivered RBI singles. Beckham’s single deflected of Fister’s foot.
Detroit second baseman Omar Infante returned to the lineup and batted seventh after being on the disabled list for more than a month with sprained left ankle. To make room, the Tigers optioned infielder Hernan Perez to Triple-A Toledo before the game.
Detroit’s Jose Iglesias made a sensational barehanded play to throw out Phegley with one out in the sixth. Phegley’s chopper appeared to deflect off Fister, but Iglesias dove and threw to first from midair.
NOTES: RHP Justin Verlander is slated to start the first game of the Tigers’ doubleheader Friday against Kansas City. Manager Jim Leyland hasn’t announced a starter for the second game, but said: “It’s someone who’s not here.” ... Detroit also announced the injury rehabilitation assignment of right-hander Octavio Dotel had been transferred from the Gulf Coast League Tigers to Class A Lakeland. “He’s doing OK and he doesn’t have pain,” Leyland said. ... Batting practice was called off as thunderstorms moved through the area, but the game started on time under a blue sky at 7:10 CDT.