CHICAGO -- In the second week of June, with more than three months to go in baseball's regular season, the White Sox weren't about to hype the importance of the four-game series against the Tigers that began Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
But staying competitive against the American League Central leaders this week certainly wouldn't hurt the White Sox's confidence given that they entered off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels. And it wouldn't hurt their place in the standings either.
Thanks to some needed offensive outbursts, including a two-run homer from rookie first baseman Jose Abreu, the White Sox took a step forward in the opener with a 6-5 victory over the Tigers.
"We'd prefer to win," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said before the game. "Does it make a difference in terms of determining whether we're a contender or not? No. What makes a difference is that we haven't been playing real good ball the last three days and no matter who the opponent is now, it's time to turn that around. The fact it happens to be Detroit gives us a barometer against a team that's been the class of our division and more or less the class of the league for the last couple of seasons."
White Sox right-hander Hector Noesi entered Monday off his first victory in more than two years. He lasted 52/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, all of which came from three Tigers homers.
Adam Eaton started the Sox off in the bottom of the first with a triple to left field, and Gordon Beckham hit an RBI single that bounced off Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello's foot for a 1-0 lead.
The Sox added to the lead in the third inning when Tyler Flowers walked, Beckham doubled, and Conor Gillaspie hit an RBI single. Abreu grounded into a double play to cut short the Sox run.
Miguel Cabrera hit the first of the Tigers' homers with a solo shot 431 feet to left-center field in the fourth. Eugenio Suarez added a solo homer in the fifth to tie the game at 2-2.
The Sox rallied in the bottom of the fifth for three runs. Beckham doubled for his third hit of the night, and Gillaspie drove him in with a single.
That brought up Jose Abreu, who had one hit in his previous 16 at-bats. The Sox rookie first baseman hit a two-run homer 407 feet to left-center field to push the Sox ahead 5-2. It was Abreu's 18th homer of the season.
Victor Martinez matched Abreu's feat when he hit a two-run homer right field to pull the Tigers within 5-4 of the Sox.
The Sox were helped by the Tigers' third error of the night in the sixth inning. Alejandro De Aza singled, moved to second following Porcello's throwing error and scored on Eaton's RBI single.
Sox closer Ronald Belisario allowed a run in the ninth inning after Austin Jackson hit a double to right field that Sox outfielder Moises Sierra apparently lost in the lights. Alex Avila followed with an RBI double to the left-field fence that bounced off the glove of De Aza. Pinch runner Rajai Davis advanced to third on a fly out to center field, but Belisario got a strikeout and a groundout to end it.
Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn said before the game that the team is focused more on playing better baseball rather than just beating the Tigers.
"I think a lot of emphasis gets put on it, but it really is just another series, especially coming at this juncture of the season," Dunn said. "Obviously you want to go out and play well if for no other reason than how we played over the last three games."
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