"It's still a grind," Garland said Sunday after getting win No. 17 on his fifth try. "We still have to play Cleveland a few more times. As long as we continue to play the way we've played the last few days, everything will be fine."
After going 12-16 in August, the White Sox are 4-0 in September.
"When one person starts it off, it all seems to roll from there," Garland said after Chicago outscored Detroit 29-6 in the series.
After losing three consecutive decisions, Garland (17-8) pitched his third complete game of the season -- all shutouts. Winning for the first time since Aug. 7, he received two stellar defensive plays to keep the Tigers from scoring.
Garland, who started the season 8-0, walked one and struck out seven, including Chris Shelton with a runner at third to end the eighth right after manager Ozzie Guillen came to the mound and asked if he was OK.
"I was kind of worried about him leaving the ball around the plate and giving up a home run, and all of a sudden he'd lose everything he built for the whole game. He said he was fine and I believe my pitchers," Guillen said
Garland outpitched Jeremy Bonderman (14-12), who lost his third consecutive start despite allowing five hits in his fourth complete game this season and the sixth of his career. He struck out six and walked one.
"That's the way it goes, man," Bonderman said. "What are you going to do? Can't sit here and cry about it."
Konerko's 33rd homer gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the fourth, right after two key defensive plays turned the Tigers away.
After center fielder Aaron Rowand made a nice, running catch of Shelton's long drive, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Pena hit two-out singles in the fourth. But with runners at first and third, third baseman Pablo Ozuna made a diving stop of Craig Monroe's hard shot down the line before getting to his feet and throwing him out.
"I probably wouldn't have been out there in the ninth if it wasn't for Pablo in that fourth inning. If he doesn't make that play, I probably wouldn't have been in the game," Garland said.
Tigers manager Alan Trammell agreed.
"It was a big play. Who knows what might have happened after that?" Trammell said. "If he doesn't make that play, we could have arguably scored two runs."
If Ozuna's play was a rally stopper, one Bonderman didn't make in the first helped the White Sox score their first run.
Scott Podsednik led off with a single, moved up on Bonderman's wild pitch and scored when Tadahito Iguchi hit a single that deflected off Bonderman's glove and was redirected past second baseman Placido Polanco.
"I touched quite a bit of it, it hit my glove pretty good," Bonderman said. "It was just reaction."
Monroe then saved a run with a great, over-the-shoulder catch of Konerko's drive to the warning track in center.
The victory gave the White Sox a 9½-game lead over second-place Cleveland in the AL Central. Not enough for Guillen to relax completely. Not just yet.
"We have to get there. We feel better coming here getting a little lead," Guillen said. "We have to worry about ourselves. The way we're playing right now, I feel pretty good about this team."
- It was Garland's fourth career shutout and fifth complete game.
- The White Sox play a makeup game at Fenway Park on Monday before returning home to finish their homestand Tuesday through Sunday against the Royals and Angels. Chicago will leave all its starting pitchers behind for the makeup game. Rookie Brandon McCarthy will get the start.
- Detroit has lost nine of 11 overall and finished 2-7 on a tough road trip to Boston, Cleveland and Chicago.
- Garland is 9-4 in his career against the Tigers, including 3-0 this season. Two of his three shutouts this year are against Detroit.
- Tigers C Ivan Rodriguez, 1-for-15 in his career against Garland entering the game, didn't start but pinch-hit in the eighth and flied out.