Max Scherzer hopes to pitch the Detroit Tigers to an important series win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday when the American League Central rivals resume a three-game set at Comerica Park.
Detroit drew first blood in this series on Friday, as Delmon Young ripped a tie-breaking, three-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel the Tigers to 7-4 win.
Miguel Cabrera added three hits, including a two-run home run, and scored twice for the Tigers, who now trail the White Sox by just two games in the division and have beaten them in five straight matchups.
"We're almost at Labor Day and we're playing for something," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The one goal I do have is to get into September and be playing for something and we've accomplished that."
Octavio Dotel (5-2) earned the victory after allowing just one hit over 1 2/3 innings of relief. Jose Valverde tossed a scoreless ninth to nail down his 27th save of the season.
Jake Peavy (9-10) was charged for six runs on nine hits and four walks over six-plus frames to take his third straight losing decision.
"They got a big hit and we had some chances to get a big one and couldn't quite pull it off but the boys battled," Peavy said. "I gotta be better than that, just didn't have much to go on tonight."
A.J. Pierzynski clubbed a solo homer and Paul Konerko plated a pair in the setback, Chicago's fourth in its last five games.
Things won't get any easier for the ChiSox on Saturday against Scherzer, who has allowed just four runs in winning his last four starts. Scherzer was brilliant against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday, holding them to a run and four hits over seven innings to improve to 14-6, while lowering his ERA to 4.13.
He also struck out nine batters to give him 195 on the season, three shy of teammate Justin Verlander for the major league lead.
"This series is very big. They know it, we know it, the world knows it. These are must-win series for us. We can't bleed away too many more games," Scherzer said. "Obviously, it's not the end of the world, but these games are very important. I just think this is our opportunity to come out there and play the baseball we know we're capable of. I think if we're able to do that against this team, we'll be able to win this series."
Scherzer is just 3-4 in 11 starts against the White Sox, despite a 2.85 ERA.
Chicago, meanwhile, will rely on lefty Francisco Liriano, who is 2-0 in six starts since being acquired from the Minnesota Twins. Liriano did not get a decision on Monday in Baltimore, as he struggled with his command and allowed two runs and six hits with four walks in five innings of a 4-3 loss.
Liriano has faced the Tigers 21 times (15 starts) and is 5-6 against them with a 5.69 ERA.
Detroit is 8-4 so far in the season series with Chicago, which has lost four in a row at Comerica Park.