DETROIT -- The Chicago White Sox could have taken control of the AL Central on Tuesday.
Instead, they left Comerica Park frustrated again.
The White Sox left 12 runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Their lead remained at two games after Cleveland's 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay.
"If you leave that many on base, you aren't going to win many games," Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It keeps happening, and I don't know why. We had opportunities, and didn't take them."
The White Sox have lost 12 of 19.
"No one ever said this was going to be easy," Jermaine Dye said. "We've got to stay positive and just find a way to get some momentum."
Chicago had won three in a row before dropping the first two games of its four-game series in Detroit.
"Most of these guys have never been in this situation, but I have, and I have to lead them," Guillen said.
"You might want to go to your room, call your mom and cry, but when you come to the ballpark and put on the uniform, you have to be a man. I have 30 men to lead."
The Tigers have won four in a row.
"We're doing our job," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said as his players watched the Indians-Devil Rays game in the clubhouse.
Nate Robertson (7-15) ended a five-start losing streak, allowing one run on five hits and five walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five in his first win since Aug. 23.
"I thought I had pitched well enough to win some of those games," Robertson said. "Tonight, I made pitches when I needed them, and the defense made the plays."
Paul Konerko followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2 before Rodney induced Dye to fly to center for his ninth save.
Brandon McCarthy (2-2) lost for the first time in six starts, dating to May 27. He gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
"I wasn't sharp," he said. "I had a lot of little problems. Everyone is a little down right now after two disappointing losses, but we'll figure it out."
McCarthy retired his first eight batters before Omar Infante hit his ninth homer of the season to give Detroit a 1-0 lead in the third.
The White Sox received three walks in the fourth, but a double play kept them from scoring.
Monroe's 20th homer gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the fifth, and they added to the margin in the sixth.
With one out, singles by Carlos Guillen and Chris Shelton put runners on the corners. Former White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez then hit a blooper to shallow center, just past the reach of second baseman Iguchi for a run-scoring single.
The White Sox loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Spurling induced pinch-hitter Geoff Blum to ground into a 1-2-3 double play. Blum entered the game hitting .115 in his last eight games, and had only played once since Sept. 10.
"That's his job," Guillen said. "The guys on the bench have to be ready to hit."
- Chicago 3B Joe Crede left Detroit early Tuesday to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple's second child. Guillen said he was not sure when Crede would return, but expected to hear from him before Wednesday's game.
- The Tigers honored their Triple-A affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens, before the game. The Mud Hens won the International League title earlier this month.
- Detroit C Ivan Rodriguez (left calf) did not play, while 2B Placido Polanco was not with the team to attend to a family matter.