Chicago, IL – Coming off an All-Star Game start, Max Scherzer threw eight strong innings and got back in the win column as the Detroit Tigers downed the Chicago White Sox, 7-3, to start a four-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Victor Martinez singled four times and drove in three runs, as the AL Central leaders won back-to-back contests for the first time since winning five straight, July 2-6. Torii Hunter launched a solo homer.
Scherzer (13-1), who tossed a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game, threw 105 pitches on Monday. He gave up four hits and a pair of runs while striking out five without issuing a walk to bounce back from a loss July 13 against Texas.
Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera exited the game in the fifth inning due to a sore left hip flexor muscle. He was replaced by Don Kelly and is listed as day-to-day.
"He's tough, he won't be out long," Hunter said. "If you need to rest him a couple of days, I guess we have to do that. We need him for the long run."
Chris Sale (6-9), who threw the ensuing two scoreless frames after Scherzer at the Midsummer Classic, struck out 11 in an eight-inning performance. The lefty fell to 1-7 over his last nine starts.
Conor Gillaspie and Dayan Viciedo homered for the White Sox, who had just five hits and saw their two-game wining streak stopped.
Prince Fielder singled to right field to drive in Hunter in the third inning.
Scherzer didn't allow a base-runner until the fifth when Adam Dunn led off with a single, but the Tigers padded their lead for him in the top of the frame. They loaded the bases with two outs, and Martinez bounced a single up the middle for a 3-0 advantage. Cabrera scored on the play, but he appeared to slow up on his way to home plate.
Viciedo started the bottom of the sixth with a homer to right, but Hunter got that run back with a blast to the same part of the field in the seventh.
Gillaspie homered to right with one out in the eighth to get Chicago within 4-2, but a pair of errors in the ninth helped the Tigers extend their lead. Brayan Pena singled and Hernan Perez reached first on Ramon Troncoso's fielding gaffe. Pena then broke for third, and went home when Alexei Ramirez's throw to third was wide. Austin Jackson followed with an RBI double, and later in the inning Martinez singled to center to drive in Detroit's final run.
"If we play better defense, we're probably in that game a little more," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Alex Rios scored on a balk from Bruce Rondon in the bottom of the ninth.
Scherzer moved to 6-0 in 10 road starts this season. He had his streak of six or more strikeouts to begin a season end in his 20th start ... Prior to the game, the White Sox activated first baseman Paul Konerko from the 15-day disabled list. He went 0-for-3 ... Chicago is 11-20 versus the AL Central. The White Sox started a stretch of playing their next 14 games, and 28 of the next 31, against opponents in their own division.