DETROIT -- After taking a huge division lead and nearly giving it all up, the Chicago White Sox need just one more win to clinch a berth in the playoffs.
Jose Contreras won his eighth straight start and Scott Podsednik had four hits, leading the White Sox over the Detroit Tigers 8-2 Wednesday night and opening a three-game lead for Chicago in the AL Central.
The White Sox would clinch no worse than a wild-card berth in the playoffs with one win in their last four games.
"I just know we've got to win tomorrow," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We've got four games left and that's the most important one."
With Chicago's victory and second-place Cleveland's 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay, the White Sox lowered their magic number to two for clinching their first division title since 2000. After Thursday's series finale in Detroit, the White Sox finish the regular season with three games at Cleveland.
"To worry about what they're going to do in another city, you worry about stupid stuff you can't control," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "Just come back tomorrow and win the game."
Chicago, which had lost its previous two games, led the AL Central by 15 games on Aug. 1 -- no team with a lead of more than 13 games has ever failed to finish first.
Carlos Pena homered for Detroit.
Contreras (15-7) gave up two runs and seven hits in eight innings, walked none and struck out nine, one short of his career high. Bobby Jenks finished with a three-hit ninth.
"I'm throwing the ball well, my defense is outstanding," said Contreras through his interpreter, third-base coach Joey Cora. "I'm throwing the ball the way I want to."
Contreras was considered Cuba's best pitcher before coming to the United States in 2003. He had a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings, first in New York with the Yankees, and then in Chicago. But he seems to have found his comfort zone.
"We knew it was just a matter of time," Guillen said. "He had the arm. He just had to get the confidence."
Detroit's Sean Douglass (5-5) allowed four runs -- three earned -- and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. The Tigers had won four straight after losing eight in a row.
Pena's 17th homer put Detroit ahead in the second, but Jermaine Dye's RBI single tied the score in the third and Everett's two-run triple to the gap in right-center gave Chicago a 3-1 lead in the fifth.
"We stayed in the game but then they got a couple of hits," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said.
Tadahito Iguchi hit into a run-scoring double play in the sixth, but Detroit closed to 4-2 in the seventh on an RBI grounder by former White Sox All-Star Magglio Ordonez. With two on and two outs, Contreras struck out Brandon Inge.
- Chicago 3B Joe Crede, whose wife had a child on Tuesday in Missouri, still hadn't returned before the start of Wednesday night's game.
- Detroit SS Carlos Guillen (knee) and C Ivan Rodriguez (calf strain) did not start.