DETROIT (AP) — Erik Johnson pitched into the seventh inning in his fourth career start, and the Chicago White Sox beat Detroit 6-3 to end any chance of the Tigers clinching the AL Central title in their home finale Sunday.
Detroit needed a win and a Cleveland loss to wrap up the division in the Tigers’ final scheduled home game.
Johnson (2-2) allowed two runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings, and Chicago held on a day after blowing a six-run lead in the ninth inning against the Tigers.
Anibal Sanchez (14-8) yielded four runs and eight hits in five innings, taking his first loss since July 19.
Prince Fielder homered for the Tigers. Detroit was without slugger Miguel Cabrera, who has been bothered by groin soreness.
The Tigers gave themselves a chance to clinch at Comerica Park with a stirring comeback the previous night, when they scored six runs in the ninth inning to tie the game before winning 7-6 in 12.
Detroit never led Sunday, and by the middle innings the chances of a postgame celebration were looking increasingly remote.
Fielder tied it at 1 in the fourth with his 25th homer of the year, but Chicago answered with three runs in the fifth. Center fielder Austin Jackson got a bit of a late jump on Conor Gillaspie’s line drive, which sailed over his head for a two-run triple. Avisail Garcia’s RBI single made it 4-1.
Jeff Keppinger added a two-run double in the seventh.
There would be no dramatic rally by the Tigers on this day. Detroit did load the bases in the seventh, and Jackson hit a sacrifice fly. Donnie Veal relieved Johnson and got pinch-hitter Torii Hunter to line out to end the inning.
On Saturday, the Tigers scored five runs in the ninth before a single out or pitching change. This time, pinch-hitter Brayan Pena led off with a double, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura immediately pulled reliever Donnie Veal. Matt Lindstrom got the final three outs, although Detroit did manage another run.
Johnson pitched six scoreless innings against Minnesota in his previous start, and although he only struck out one batter against the Tigers, he was able to avoid the big inning.
Sanchez had won seven straight decisions and entered with an American League-leading ERA of 2.51, but he didn’t look sharp. Chicago took the lead right away when Sanchez allowed a one-out single to Alexei Ramirez, threw a wild pitch and gave up an RBI single to Garcia.
NOTES: Garcia, Keppinger and Detroit’s Alex Avila had three hits each. … Detroit plays at Minnesota on Monday night, with RHP Justin Verlander (13-12) taking on RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-13). … The White Sox host Toronto. Chicago LHP Jose Quintana (8-6) faces LHP J.A. Happ (4-6).
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