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Danks Struggles As Tigers Expand AL Central Lead Over White Sox

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DETROIT (AP) — Justin Verlander took a shutout into the eighth inning and the Detroit Tigers expanded their AL Central lead over Chicago with an 8-1 win over the White Sox on Friday night.

The White Sox had won five of six, but fell 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers with two games left in the series.

Austin Jackson had three hits, including a two-run homer, for the Tigers, while Jhonny Peralta added a three-run double in a five-run fifth.

Verlander (21-5) improved to 19-2 since May 1, allowing one run on seven hits in 7 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out six in Jim Leyland’s 500th win as Tigers manager.

On a 95-degree day, John Danks struggled badly for Chicago, allowing eight runs on nine hits and two walks in 4 2-3 innings.

After Verlander needed just six pitches in the top of the first, Detroit staked him to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the inning.

Jackson led off with a single, took second on Magglio Ordonez’s groundout and scored on Delmon Young’s triple. Young came home on Miguel Cabrera’s RBI single, and Cabrera then stunned the sold-out crowd of 42,352 by stealing second base.

That put him in position to score on Alex Avila’s single.

The score remained 3-0 until the bottom of the fifth, with the White Sox only putting one runner in scoring position.

Brandon Inge led off Detroit’s fifth with a single, and scored on Jackson’s ninth homer of the season.

A single and two walks loaded the bases with two out, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen pulled Danks in favor of Josh Kinney. The move didn’t pay off, as Peralta lined a bases-clearing double to give the Tigers their eight-run lead.

Tyler Flowers broke up Verlander’s shutout with a 425-foot homer on the first pitch of the eighth, and Chicago loaded the bases with one out before Joaquin Benoit came out of the bullpen. Paul Konerko flew out to left, and A.J. Pierzynski lined out to Cabrera at first.

NOTES: Tigers reliever Alberto Alburquerque is expected to throw an inning for Triple-A Toledo on Saturday before rejoining Detroit. Alburquerque has been sidelined with a concussion since being hit with a liner in batting practice on August 12. … Chicago’s Eduardo Escobar made his major-league debut, replacing Alexei Ramirez at shortstop in the seventh inning. Shane Lindsay, the first Australian to play for the White Sox, started his career by pitching the eighth. … Verlander has thrown at least six innings and 100 pitches in all 30 starts this season. … The teams play again Saturday afternoon, with Detroit’s Brad Penny (9-10) against Chicago’s Gavin Floyd (12-10).

 (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)