Tigers Flatten Slumping White Sox 9-3
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DETROIT (AP)– Carlos Quentin hit two long home runs over the left-field wall, and Paul Konerko bounced one off the foul pole.
And those were about the only decent swings of the night for the Chicago White Sox against Justin Verlander.
Verlander pitched seven impressive innings through a misty rain, and Ryan Raburn drove in four runs to lead the Detroit Tigers over Chicago 9-3 on Friday night. Verlander allowed those three homers, but they were all solo shots. The White Sox managed only one other hit off him.
“The combination of Verlander and the weather is pretty tough,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It’s a cold, wet night and we’re going against a guy who is hitting 97, 98 (mph) on his fastball and 84 on his changeup. There aren’t too many like him.”
Chicago has lost eight of its past nine. Mark Buehrle (1-2) went 5 2-3 innings, allowing six runs and eight hits. He struck out five and walked two.
“It is hard for our guys to battle back against a guy like Verlander when I put them in a 4-0 hole like that,” Buehrle said. “Twenty games is way too early to be worried about our team. We aren’t clicking right now, but we will be.”
The start of the game was delayed 12 minutes because of rain, but that didn’t seem to bother Verlander. The Detroit ace struck out Juan Pierre to begin the night, and the Tigers broke through early against Buehrle. After Miguel Cabrera singled in the second, Jhonny Peralta hit a triple past a diving Alex Rios in right-center. Peralta scored on Brennan Boesch’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
Raburn’s two-run homer in the third doubled the lead. Verlander (2-2) retired the first 11 Chicago batters before Quentin hit his first of two long home runs, an estimated 427 feet over the left-field wall.
Alex Avila’s RBI double in the fourth made it 5-1, and Avila doubled and scored on a single by Casper Wells in the sixth for the Tigers.
“You never want to play with a sense of urgency. That means there is either tension, which will keep you from performing, or you are worried about what people will think, which is just as bad,” Konerko said. “You just have to play the way that comes naturally. We’ll keep doing that and we’ll be fine.”
Quentin led off the seventh with his sixth homer of the season, this one a 409-footer. Konerko followed with a shot to left that might have gone just as far had it not hit the foul pole to make it 6-3. Even Konerko seemed startled that the ball was fair.
“I certainly wasn’t trying to pose on that homer, and I hope no one was offended that I was still in the box,” he said. “When you hit a ball like that, you know it is going foul — they never come back — but there was a lot of wind and it just drifted back. I didn’t think it had a chance until it hit the pole.”
Verlander recovered and eventually struck out the last two batters of the inning, getting A.J. Pierzynski swinging for the 1,000th strikeout of his career.
“That’s a very powerful club. They’re going to obviously hit a lot of home runs,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “The key is to keep people off the base, so they’re not three-run homers, two-run homers.”
Detroit added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth.
“To win the division and win titles, you have to beat aces,” Guillen said. “Hopefully, we’ll start doing that soon.”
Notes: It was Quentin’s 11th career multihomer game. … Cabrera made a diving stop on Omar Vizquel‘s grounder behind first base and flipped the ball to Verlander to end the top of the sixth.
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