CHICAGO – Max Scherzer had the Chicago White Sox swinging and missing most of the afternoon. The right-hander struck out 11 in six innings Friday, a performance that was a dramatic improvement over his first start this season.
Still, it wasn't enough to produce a victory. The White Sox used some strong defense, good pitching by Jake Peavy and a few timely hits for a 5-2 victory over Detroit in their home opener.
"The results were better. I didn't feel like I was as bad as after my first start," Scherzer said.
"I made a few adjustments after that and I was able to throw the ball pretty well today. Unfortunately, I made a couple mistakes and I paid for it."
Dayan Viciedo homered in the fifth and Chicago got two more runs in the sixth. Paul Konerko hit an RBI single and lumbered around the bases to score on A.J. Pierzynski's triple, just getting in on a close play at the plate.
"I thought he attacked the strike zone pretty good, mixed his pitches well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said about Scherzer.
"A couple tough pitches to Konerko and Pierzynski probably hurt him — didn't get those where he wanted to. Overall I was very pleased with his performance."
Scherzer gave up eight hits and seven runs in 2 2-3 innings against Boston in his first start. On an overcast day Friday, he allowed five hits and three runs.
"Throwing a lot of strikes, he fixed whatever he needed to do mechanically, got in a nice rhythm, used all his pitches and threw all his pitches for strikes," Detroit catcher Alex Avila said. " He threw the ball great today. If he pitches like that, he's going to win a lot of games this year."
With the White Sox ahead 3-0, Peavy walked Miguel Cabrera. Delmon Young's two-out, two-run homer finished Peavy (1-0) in the seventh.
Avila singled off reliever Will Ohman, and Jhonny Peralta followed with a double against Addison Reed before Viciedo made a diving catch of Andy Dirks' sinking liner to left field to end the inning.
In the eighth, Chicago shortstop Alexei Ramirez made a nice stop on Cabrera's grounder and shoveled to second, starting an inning-ending double play after the Tigers had runners at first and third.
"These guys were awesome today. The play from Alexei and the play from Dayan saved the game, ultimately," Peavy said.
Leyland also noted that Chicago's defense was a key.
"Ramirez made a nice play. (Cabrera) didn't get all of it. If he'd gotten all of it, it would have gone up the middle. I think it got in on him a little bit and he didn't quite get it all," Leyland said.
"Ramirez made a nice play and they turned a double play. Viciedo made a nice play on Dirks — the ball didn't curve on him. Usually when a left-hander hits a ball like that, it slices away. That ball, for whatever reason, stayed pretty much straight. He made a very good play on it."
After Peavy struck out the first two batters of the game, Cabrera pointed out to the umpires that the batter's box was lined up improperly, so the grounds crew had to come out and re-do it, causing about a 10-minute delay.
"It was up too far. It was all right, but it was just up too far, so they had to move the line back," Leyland said.
"The batter's box was fine but they had moved it up too far, it wasn't in line with the plate the way it was set up, so they just changed it. No big deal."
Cabrera declined to discuss the batter's box.
"I don't want to talk about that. We lost," he said.
Viciedo hit his first homer with two outs in the fifth to break up a scoreless duel between Peavy and Scherzer (0-1).
Brent Morel hit an RBI single for Chicago in the eighth after Young misplayed Alejandro De Aza's fly ball into triple. Morel eventually scored on a wild pitch by Brayan Villarreal.
Hector Santiago pitched the ninth for his third save in three chances.
Peavy retired the first 10 batters before Brennan Boesch singled sharply to right in the fourth.
NOTES: The teams combined to strike out 25 times — 15 by White Sox batters, including four by Adam Dunn. ... Robin Ventura became the sixth straight White Sox manager to win his debut at U.S. Cellular Field. He and Konerko got loud ovations during introductions. ... The announced sellout crowd was 38,676. ... Tigers INF Brandon Inge (groin) could rejoin the club Saturday after a rehab stint with Triple-A Toledo. ... Adam Wilk (0-0) goes for Detroit on Saturday against Gavin Floyd (0-1).