DETROIT -- Frank Thomas' heroics at the plate were made possible by Chicago's relievers on the mound.
The Tigers had the winning run on third base in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings and loaded the bases with one out in the 13th, but the White Sox bullpen kept Detroit at bay.
"It's crazy," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The White Sox are atop the A.L. Central with a 52-24 record, the best in the major leagues. Chicago is also 22-8 in one-run games.
Shingo Takatsu (1-2) pitched 2 2/3 innings for the win. He worked out of the jam in the 13th, striking out Brandon Inge and getting Placido Polanco to hit a grounder to second to end it.
"You can't underestimate how big our bullpen has been," said Paul Konerko, who also homered for Chicago.
Chris Shelton, who had a career-high four hits, connected for Detroit.
Fernando Rodney (2-1) allowed Thomas' home run.
"He's a professional guy. A sure Hall of Famer," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "He sat on a 2-0 changeup and hit it out of the park."
Takatsu came in with runners on first and second with two out in the 11th. He got Inge on a force out at second to send the lead runner, Shelton, to third. Takatsu then got Polanco to ground out to second.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth, Chicago shortstop Juan Uribe made a backhanded grab of Polanco's one-hopper and barely got him at first.
In the eighth, the Tigers loaded the bases with none out against reliever Cliff Politte but failed to score.
Polanco and Carlos Guillen opened the inning with singles, and Dmitri Young followed with a walk. Politte then struck out Ivan Rodriguez and got Craig Monroe to bounce into a double play to end the inning.
"I kind of just got aggressive because I knew I had to throw some strikes," Politte said. "I got Pudge (Rodriguez) on a good pitch ... Kind of thought one pitch and get out of it with a double play ball. I got it and got out of the inning."
Chicago starter Brandon McCarthy allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He didn't walk a batter and struck out five. He left after giving up Shelton's triple in the seventh.
Shelton scored on pinch-hitter Rondell White's sacrifice fly off Neal Cotts to make it 3-all.
Detroit starter Jason Johnson allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings.
Chicago scored twice in the second inning on a RBI single by Joe Crede and on a wild pitch by Johnson.
But Detroit tied it in the bottom half on Shelton's two-run homer. His drive into the right-center field stands followed Monroe's one-out single.
Konerko's two-out, solo home run in the third, his 19th of the season, gave the White Sox a 3-2 lead.
Thomas' home run his 1,320th run scored, making him the franchise's career leader. Luke Appling had 1,319. Konerko has 12 RBIs in 13 games. ... Detroit RF Magglio Ordonez was 0-for-4 with Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday. He is on a rehab assignment after being out since April with a hernia. Ordonez is 1-for-10 in three games with Toledo. ... Shelton has 14 RBIs in 14 games.