CHICAGO -- The White Sox have been getting runners on. The trouble's been getting them in during a stretch in which they're trying to hold on to the top spot in the AL Central.
Alex Rios provided a solution with one swing Monday night, a three-run homer that propelled the White Sox to a 6-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers and increased Chicago's division lead to three games.
Rios's drive put the White Sox ahead, A.J. Pierzynski followed with a solo shot and Jose Quintana survived a shaky start to pitch one-run ball into the eighth.
"I think when Rios hits that ball, it just kinds of pops the cork on all the angst of not getting guys in," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "That was a pretty big home run for us."
The White Sox had lost seven straight to Detroit, managed just two hits against Rick Porcello (9-12) and were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position when an error on Detroit second baseman Omar Infante gave them an opening.
Infante muffed Dewayne Wise's easy, one-out grounder in the sixth. Paul Konerko singled to left to put runners at the corners and Rios lined a pitch over the wall in left centre, his 23rd homer of the season. Pierzynski followed with his 26th to centre field for a 4-1 lead, ending Porcello's night and sending him to his sixth straight loss. Gordon Beckham added a two-run shot in the eighth off Octavio Dotel.
"We struggled the last games against them and this win being the first one of the series is pretty big," Rios said. "This whole series is pretty important for both of the teams. We are going to have a chance to maybe get a couple of games ahead if we win the series. It could decide what is going to happen at the end of the year."
Quintana (6-4), who was 1-3 in his previous 10 starts, retired 10 straight before walking Ryan Raburn with two outs in the eight and being replaced by Brian Omogrosso. Miguel Cabrera doubled before Donnie Veal got Prince Fielder to ground out to second.
Quintana had failed to make it out of the fourth inning in his two previous outings but settled down after a shaky start Monday night and allowed one run on seven hits -- none after Gerald Lair's fifth inning double -- in 7 2-3 innings.
He walked two and struck out seven and got Miguel Cabrera to ground into a double play with two on and no outs in the third and the Tigers leading 1-0.
"As soon as he got that double play, he settled down. It was the biggest play of the game," Pierzynski said.
"He (Cabera) is probably the best hitter in baseball right now. You could see Q's confidence grow and you kind of see the team's confidence grow. ...This is probably the biggest game he ever pitched in his life."
Porcello, 3-0 this season against the White Sox entering the game, gave up five hits and four runs -- three earned -- in 5 1-3 innings. Detroit made three errors in the game, and the Tigers have now lost four straight.
"When you get in a tough situation like that, you've got to bear down and find something within to get out of those jams. I wasn't able to do that," Porcello said
"They caught me that one inning," he said. "They tagged it in the sixth."
Delmon Young, who led Detroit's three-game sweep of the White Sox at Comerica Park a little more than a week ago, continued his tear with a one-out single in the second, moved on up on Quintana's wild pitch and scored on Jhonny Peralta's RBI single. Peralta was thrown out trying to stretch or it could have an even bigger inning since Avisail Garcia and Omar Infante followed with infield singles before Quintana got the third out.
Detroit has managed just six runs total in its four-game losing streak.
"It's pretty simple. We just didn't play a real good game defensively and of course we only got the one run again. That pretty much sums it up," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
"Omar missed a groundball, but that's just part of the game. ... Unfortunately we put Rick in a tough bind. When you're scoring one, two runs a game, you can hardly blame your defence for what's going on. Right now we're just not scoring runs."
NOTES: White Sox DH Adam Dunn missed his fourth straight game with a strained right oblique. 3B Kevin Youkilis returned to the team after missing three games to be with his wife as she gave birth to their child. And Ventura said it's likely Gavin Floyd will return to the rotation for Wednesday's Game 3. He's been on the DL since Aug. 28 with a right elbow strain. ... Young entered the game with a .359 average in 36 games at U.S. Cellular Field with seven homers and 25 RBIs. ... Detroit still leads the season series 10-5. ... It's Detroit's Doug Fister (8-8) against Chicago's Jake Peavy (10-10) in Tuesday night's Game 2 of the pivotal four-game series.