DETROIT (AP) — The Chicago White Sox fell back to second place for the first time in nearly a month.
It had been even longer since Chris Sale left the ballpark with a loss.
Sale allowed five runs in seven innings, and the Detroit Tigers took over first place in the AL Central on Saturday with a 7-1 victory over the Chicago. The White Sox had occupied the top spot since a June 24 win over Milwaukee put them a half-game ahead of Cleveland.
Now the Tigers lead by a half-game over Chicago. Sale (11-3) lost for the first time since May 12.
Detroit will go for a three-game sweep Sunday, sending rookie Jacob Turner (0-1) to the mound against Philip Humber (4-4).
“You just keep coming out and playing,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Nobody said it would be easy.”
Before the game, Chicago acquired Houston reliever Brett Myers and cash considerations for two relievers and a player to be named.
Rick Porcello pitched brilliantly into the ninth for Detroit, Brennan Boesch hit a three-run homer and Austin Jackson drove in the other four runs for the Tigers.
Porcello (7-5) fell just short of his first complete game, departing after he allowed two hard-hit singles to start the ninth. He allowed a run and five hits.
“I wanted to finish it, so I was excited to be able to go back out there,” Porcello said. “Unfortunately, I let the first two guys get on and from there you can’t expect to stay in the game after that happens. It was nice to be out there in the ninth for sure.”
Porcello struck out four with no walks.
Sale allowed seven hits. The left-hander struck out six and walked four.
Detroit was expected by many to win the division easily after finishing 15 games in front last year and adding Prince Fielder in the offseason. But the Tigers struggled through the first half of the season and Chicago emerged.
Now the White Sox have lost four straight and six of eight. They seemed to have an advantage on the mound Saturday — Sale was 8-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his last 10 starts — but that didn’t materialize.
“Just made some bad pitches at some bad times,” Sale said. “A team like that is going to capitalize.”
Porcello retired the first 12 hitters he faced. Chicago took the lead in the fifth on Dayan Viciedo’s RBI single, but the Tigers answered quickly.
With two outs in the bottom half, Gerald Laird and Danny Worth, Detroit’s eighth and ninth hitters, hit singles. Jackson drove them both home with a double.
Boesch’s homer the following inning also came with two outs, and so did Jackson’s two run single in the eighth. Since the All-Star break, the Tigers have scored 35 of their 48 runs with two outs, according to STATS, LLC.
Before the break, they scored 129 of their 387 runs with two outs.
Boesch struck out his first two times up against Sale before connecting for his 10th homer of the year.
“Any time you get left-handers getting good swings off of him, he’s not as sharp as usual,” Ventura said.
The 23-year-old Porcello has had a rocky start to his career. He won 14 games for the Tigers as a rookie in 2009, but manager Jim Leyland has essentially admitted he was rushed to the big leagues.
A few more starts like Saturday’s would give Detroit quite a lift down the stretch. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he came back to the mound for the ninth, but he wasn’t able to finish for the elusive complete game. He threw 94 pitches, and the crowd repeated the warm ovation after Leyland lifted him.
NOTES: The time of game was 2 hours, 11 minutes. … Jackson’s four RBIs equaled a career high set May 9, 2011, at Toronto. … The Tigers have allowed five or fewer hits in four straight games, the team’s longest streak since May 20-24, 1984.
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