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Detroit at Chicago

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Detroit (56-60) «000001002380
Chi. White Sox (65-52)0000101002100

Avila's two-run homer in ninth lifts Tigers over slipping White Sox

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- A lot happened to the Detroit Tigers in the time between Alex Avila's last two homers -- almost all of it bad.

Avila hit a two-run shot off substitute closer J.J. Putz in the ninth inning to send the Tigers to a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.

Avila's previous homer came on July 10, when Detroit beat Minnesota to take over first place in the AL Central. In between, the Tigers went 7-24 to fall 10 1/2 games behind the Twins.

Devastated by injuries to several top players and struggling in all phases, the Tigers now find themselves desperate for victories.

"I've been around this game long enough to know we've got to start to put something together," said Brandon Inge, who led off the ninth with a single. "This one was huge."

Unlikely, too. The White Sox had been on a roll -- winning 41 of their previous 59 games -- and Avila was batting .210 before connecting on the first pitch he saw from Putz.

"When Avila hit that ball, it was, like, 'Come on!' Then, 'Really?"' said Phil Coke (7-2), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to get the victory.

Avila, who platoons at catcher with Gerald Laird, added: "It's been a really tough year for me personally, so it felt good. I was so excited that I was clapping as I went around the bases."

Putz (5-4) was working the ninth inning because Bobby Jenks is out with back spasms. Putz also gave up a game-ending homer to Baltimore's Brian Roberts on Monday.

Putz had seasons of 36 and 40 saves with Seattle, so he knows what it's like to pitch with the game on the line.

"It was away and [Avila] put a good swing on it and hit it the opposite way," said Putz, who earlier this season set a franchise record with 27 straight scoreless appearances. "If you're going to get beat, that's the way you want to get beat. I didn't think it was a terrible pitch. But that's the way it goes sometimes."

The White Sox have lost six of nine games to go from leading the division by 1½ games to trailing Minnesota by two.

Chicago pitcher Edwin Jackson struck out 11 in seven innings in his home debut, allowing one run and five hits. He has given up only three earned runs in 20 innings since he was acquired from Arizona on July 30.

"Another good start," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Three out of three. You can't be better than that."

Rick Porcello pitched seven innings for Detroit, yielding two runs and nine hits. A rookie standout last season, Porcello struggled so badly earlier this year he was sent to the minors for a spell.

Porcello escaped serious damage by inducing three double-play grounders. With two on in the third inning, he was saved by second baseman Carlos Guillen, who ranged well behind the bag to grab Alex Rios' grounder and made a behind-the-back flip to shortstop Ramon Santiago to start a sensational DP.

"Best I've seen," Porcello said. "I was jumping up and down."

Detroit tied it at 1 in the sixth on Guillen's 425-foot homer to right-center field. It was the first homer since June 20 for Guillen, who had been 1 for 16 since coming off the disabled list Monday.

Chicago went ahead again in the seventh. Juan Pierre drew a two-out walk, swiped second for his 504th steal -- tying Paul Molitor for 36th on the career list -- and scored on Omar Vizquel's single.

Even with the victory, the Tigers are 18-36 on the road and 3-7 against the White Sox.

Notes

  • Tigers RF Brennan Boesch struck out four times. After a hot start to his rookie season, he is batting .125 over his last 29 games.
  • Jenks isn't expected to pitch in Sunday's series finale, either. After Chicago is off Monday, the team will decide if Jenks needs to go on the DL. "I don't think he'll be ready by Tuesday," Ozzie Guillen said. "I hope he is. But you can't even move today and all of a sudden Tuesday you're fine?"
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Alex Avila's (right) fifth home run of the season couldn't come at a better time for Detroit. (AP)
Alex Avila's (right) fifth home run of the season couldn't come at a better time for Detroit. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

A. Avila
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Chicago

E. Jackson
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 3
K 11
 
Detroit Tigers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Austin Jackson, CF5000020 .301
Johnny Damon, DH4020001 .277
Brennan Boesch, RF4000043 .277
    Don Kelly, LF0000000 .214
Miguel Cabrera, 1B3010101 .338
Carlos Guillen, 2B4111024 .267
Brandon Inge, 3B3110110 .256
Ryan Raburn, LF-RF4010023 .234
Alex Avila, C3112120 .214
Ramon Santiago, SS4010023 .276
Totals34383315  
Batting
2B - Johnny Damon (29, Thornton)
HR - Carlos Guillen (6, Jackson), Alex Avila (5, Putz)
RBI - Carlos Guillen (32), Alex Avila 2 (20)
CS - Ryan Raburn (2, 2nd base by Jackson/Pierzynski)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Brennan Boesch 1
DP - Guillen-Cabrera, Guillen-Santiago-Cabrera, Inge-Guillen-Cabrera
Detroit Tigers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Rick Porcello 7922230 5.53
Robbie Weinhardt 0.2000010 6.61
Phil Coke (W,7-2) 1.1100010 2.61
Pitches-Strikes - Rick Porcello 115-69, Robbie Weinhardt 5-4, Phil Coke 18-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rick Porcello 11-4, Robbie Weinhardt 1-0
Batters Faced - Rick Porcello 29, Robbie Weinhardt 2, Phil Coke 5
Chicago White Sox
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Juan Pierre, LF3121100 .268
Omar Vizquel, 3B4021002 .290
Alex Rios, CF4000004 .293
Paul Konerko, 1B3010110 .300
Mark Teahen, DH4000023 .255
Carlos Quentin, RF3020001 .236
    Andruw Jones, RF1000010 .200
A.J. Pierzynski, C4010002 .238
Alexei Ramirez, SS4110001 .289
Gordon Beckham, 2B4010011 .251
Totals34210225  
Batting
RBI - Juan Pierre (30), Omar Vizquel (22)
2-OUT RBI - Omar Vizquel (8)
SB - Juan Pierre (45, 2nd base off Porcello/Avila)
Team LOB - 7
Chicago White Sox
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Edwin Jackson 75113111 4.67
Matt Thornton (H,20) 1100010 2.35
J.J. Putz (BS,2; L,5-4) 1222031 2.28
IBB - Cabrera by Edwin Jackson
WP - Edwin Jackson (15)
Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 112-68, Matt Thornton 16-9, J.J. Putz 21-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 6-3, Matt Thornton 1-1
Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 28, Matt Thornton 4, J.J. Putz 5
Game Information
Attendance - 36548
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Doug Eddings, First Base - Jeff Nelson, Second Base - Kerwin Danley, Third Base - C.B. Bucknor