DETROIT -- Kenny Rogers is proving his 41-year-old arm can still win games late in the summer.
He dominated for seven innings and was backed by Marcus Thames' solo homer and RBI triple in Detroit's 4-0 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night, its second straight victory in a possibly pivotal four-game series against the World Series champions.
Rogers (13-6) gave up four hits and walked only one over seven innings, his third straight strong outing.
"I know I've won games in September before, or August, so it's not a big deal," he said. "I just want to start winning some games in October."
The Tigers moved one step closer to giving Rogers, who is winless in five postseason starts, that chance
Chicago has lost six of eight, falling 7½ games behind Detroit -- the biggest gap since after play on Aug. 11. The White Sox still lead the wild-card race by a half-game over Minnesota, which plays at Chicago this weekend.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was relegated to watching much of the game on TV. He was ejected after arguing balls and strikes from the dugout in the second inning for shouting at plate umpire Dan Iassogna. After the game, the outspoken manager displayed rare restraint.
"If I said what I wanted to say, I would get suspended for 20 years," he said. "They would maybe fine me $100 million."
After losing nine of 12, the Tigers (81-45) ensured their first non-losing season since 1993 and improved their chances of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1987.
"We had a nice two days against the team right behind us," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "That's where it stops."
Detroit won the series opener 7-1 with another sensational start by hard-throwing rookie Justin Verlander, then the crafty Rogers followed.
"The game is dictated by your starting pitching, and the last two days, our starting pitching dictated pretty well," Leyland said.
Fernando Rodney pitched the last two innings and allowed one hit, Chicago's fifth.
After a double play got him out of a jam in the first, Rogers retired the side in order the next three innings.
Right fielder Magglio Ordonez got Rogers in and out of trouble in the seventh. He was charged with an error for not catching a liner that he appeared to lose in the lights, then made a sliding catch after a long run for the second out.
"That probably turned the game around," Leyland said. "That probably took a little sting from them, and gave us an edge."
The White Sox did load the bases in the inning, but Rogers got Sandy Alomar to ground out.
Mark Buehrle (10-11) allowed four runs and nine hits over 5 1-3 innings. Buehrle, who began the season 9-4, beat Kansas City in his previous start for the only victory in his last 10 outings.
"It seems like every time I go out there, I'm putting us in a position where we have to fight back," he said. "That's hard to do against the best pitching staff in baseball."
Unlike Rogers' prior start against Chicago, when he lost despite not giving up an earned run over seven innings, Detroit quickly gave him run support.
Four of the first five Tigers singled, with Ordonez's hit bringing in the first run. Thames drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0.
Carlos Guillen hit a two-out double in the third inning and scored on Thames' triple, and Thames' 422-foot shot to left-center made it 4-0 in the fifth.
- Before he was ejected for the fifth time this season, Guillen said he admired Toronto manager John Gibbons' restraint during Monday night's confrontation with Ted Lilly. "I'm not sure I would have had that kind of patience -- I might have gotten after him on the mound," Guillen said.
- 2B Neifi Perez became Detroit's seventh leadoff hitter Tuesday, his second game with the Tigers.
- Thames entered the game 2-for-14 against Buehrle.