Published July 17, 2011
DETROIT – After watching his Detroit Tigers avoid a series sweep with a nice rally, manager Jim Leyland admitted his team has a lot to prove right now.
The Tigers have developed an unpleasant habit of fading in the second half, so there was an antsy vibe around Comerica Park when they lost two straight to Chicago immediately after the All-Star break.
"We're not hiding from that," Leyland said. "The only way you quiet that down is to do what we did today — go win games."
Carlos Guillen hit a tiebreaking RBI single in Detroit's three-run sixth inning, leading the Tigers to a 4-3 win over the White Sox on Sunday. Detroit came back from an early 3-0 deficit.
The Tigers haven't played above-.500 baseball after the All-Star break since 2000, and they dropped the first two games of this series by a combined 13-2.
Chicago led 3-1 on Sunday before Victor Martinez tied it with a two-run single in the sixth. Jhonny Peralta then singled, and Guillen followed with a line drive to right field that drove in Martinez.
Detroit's Brad Penny (7-6) allowed three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. Three relievers finished for the Tigers, with Jose Valverde working the ninth for his 25th save in 25 chances.
Detroit moved into a virtual tie for first place with Cleveland, which lost at Baltimore. The Tigers had the Indians-Orioles game on in their clubhouse after their victory.
Phil Humber (8-6) allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings for the White Sox. He struck out eight and walked one.
Penny labored early on a hot afternoon, giving up three runs in the second. Alex Rios hit an RBI double, A.J. Pierzynski added a sacrifice fly and Gordon Beckham singled in a run.
But Penny was able to settle down after that. He ended up throwing only 78 pitches.
"Some teams are different. Those guys are really aggressive, and they're doing me a favor by swinging first and second pitch every time," Penny said. "I'm throwing strikes, and they're helping my pitch count, when they had me a little bit on the ropes in the second inning."
The first time the Tigers hosted the White Sox this season, Detroit outscored Chicago 21-3 in a three-game sweep. The White Sox seemed ready to return the favor, but Humber ran out of steam.
Brennan Boesch's solo homer in the fourth made it 3-1, and Andy Dirks led off the Detroit sixth with a hard-hit ball that shortstop Alexei Ramirez deflected but couldn't stop. Dirks hustled all the way to second as the ball rolled into short center field, and Magglio Ordonez walked one out later.
Miguel Cabrera hit a grounder to Ramirez, but with the runners moving, Chicago couldn't turn a double play.
"If he hits a line drive at the third baseman, I look like a fool, but you don't manage like that," Leyland said. "That was the right play, and fortunately it worked out good for us, but it wasn't anything that 30 out of 30 managers wouldn't have done, in my opinion."
Martinez came up with men on second and third and two out. His single brought home both runners when right fielder Carlos Quentin overran the ball slightly.
"I really wouldn't change anything I threw, but they have great hitters and they got some hits off me," Humber said. "You just have to tip your cap to them."
Humber left after Peralta's hit, and Guillen followed with a clutch base hit off Chris Sale. Quentin tried to play the ball on a short hop, but it bounced off him and went several feet away. Martinez scored easily.
Al Alburquerque relieved Penny with two on and two out in the seventh and got Paul Konerko to fly out to center. Joaquin Benoit struck out two in a perfect eighth for the Tigers.
Penny struck out two and walked one.
"That was probably one of the worst games I've thrown in a long time, for me," he said. "That wasn't a great game for me by any means."
NOTES: The White Sox confirmed LHP John Danks is slated to start Wednesday night at Kansas City, although the team did not make a roster move. Danks has been on the DL with a strained right oblique. ... Boesch struck out three times. ... The temperature was 90 degrees at game time.