DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers have been waiting for someone to step up to the plate to drive in three or four runs with one crack of the bat.
Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking, three-run double in the seventh inning and Detroit beat Chicago 7-4 Friday night to pull within two games of the AL Central-leading White Sox.
"That's one of those we've been looking for all year," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We haven't cleared the bases many times like that with a big hit."
Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta homered as Detroit took the opener of the three-game series that has Leyland, who usually downplays big matchups, acknowledging the stakes are high.
"We still have a ways to go, but obviously this is an important series without question," Leyland said. "Is it the end of the world one way or the other? No."
White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis isn't sweating his team's place in the standings.
"We've still got a two-game lead, they've still got to catch us," Youkilis said. "The key right now is that we don't want to start pressing. There's 30 games left in the season, and we need to take these games like they are the first week of April.
"If it is the last weekend of the season, you might start pressing but not now. There's a month left and we're in first place."
Octavio Dotel (5-2) pitched 1 2-3 innings of scoreless relief. Joaquin Benoit struck out the side in the eighth inning and Jose Valverde closed for his 27th save in 31 chances.
Jake Peavy (9-10) gave up six runs and nine hits over six-plus innings.
"I didn't have much at all, so it was a battle from the start to just keep us in the game," Peavy said. "I got through the sixth, but it wasn't like I had great stuff in that inning, either."
Cabrera hit his 33rd homer, a two-run shot in the first inning. He went 3 for 4 on a sore right ankle that didn't affect him at the plate, but led to him making two errors at third base.
"He's playing in some pain, but he's playing," Leyland said. "The trainers are pretty confident he can get through it."
Peralta's solo home run gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead in the fourth. Chicago tied it in the sixth without a hit when Dewayne Wise walked, stole second, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly.
Pierzynski hit his 24th homer, a solo shot in the second that snapped his 0-for-17 hitless skid.
Andy Dirks drew a leadoff walk off Peavy in the pivotal seventh inning, Cabrera singled and Prince Fielder was hit on the right shoulder by reliever Matt Thornton to load the bases. With a fired-up crowd buzzing, Young hit a double into the left-centre gap to clear the bases.
"The big difference was that Young got the big hit that we didn't get," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We had a lot of chances, but nothing was falling in."
Tigers starter Doug Fister gave up three runs -- two earned -- on four hits and four walks over five innings. Fister had his previous start skipped because of a sore right groin.
"I wasn't real sharp," he said.
Drew Smyly gave up one run on two walks while getting one out in the sixth, pitching in relief for the first time after the rookie made 16 starts this season.
Detroit has won 23 of its last 29 games at home.
The White Sox have lost seven of their last nine road games and if they get swept in Detroit, they'll fall into a first-place tie with the Tigers.
"This is not going to make or break the season," Ventura said. "But we're happy to be playing in games like this."
NOTES: The Tigers traded OF Jeff Baker to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named no later than Sept. 30 to open up a spot for minor leaguer Avisail Garcia, who made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in right field in the eighth. ... Peavy gave up four walks -- one intentional -- and struck out four as his winless streak stretched to five games.