Tigers, 20-game winner Verlander open set with White Sox

Justin Verlander tries to help the Detroit Tigers put even game set at Comerica Park.

Detroit comes into the contest holding a 5 1/2-game edge on both the White Sox and Cleveland Indians. After this set the Tigers will play three games with the Indians.

A big reason for that success has been the incredible play of Verlander, who is a 20-game winner for the first time in his career. The hard-throwing right- hander won his eighth straight start on Saturday in Minnesota, as he allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings to improve to 20-5 to go along with a 2.38 earned run average.

He also struck out six and leads the majors in that category with 218.

"He's been picking us up all year, and today we picked him up a little bit," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "It's quite an accomplishment. I'm really thrilled for him."

Verlander became the first pitcher to win 20 games before September since 2002 and is the first Tigers 20-game winner since Bill Gullickson in 1991.

Verlander is 3-1 against the White Sox this season and has gone 8-1 with a 2.67 ERA versus Chicago over the past three seasons.

The Tigers enter tonight's matchup on a sour note after splitting a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals, including an 11-8 loss on Thursday. Detroit led by two entering the seventh inning, but Kansas City scored four times in the frame to take the lead.

Reliever Phil Coke (2-9) was responsible for three of those runs and took the loss.

"I'm not happy with the outcome," Coke said. "Nobody's going to be more irritated about the outcome than I am."

Chicago, though, was unable to take advantage, as the Twins scored six times in the first inning on their way to a 7-6 win. Brent Lillibridge hit a two-run homer for the White Sox, who had their season high-tying five-game win streak stopped.

Jake Peavy (6-7) allowed six runs -- all in the first inning -- on eight hits in five innings. He did not issue a walk and struck out four.

"You go out there some day with pretty good stuff and some days you don't have that good of stuff. I thought I had good enough stuff today to compete," Peavy said about his outing.

Hoping for a better effort tonight versus the Tigers will turn to lefty John Danks, who is 6-9 with a 3.63 ERA. Danks was magnificent on Saturday in Seattle, as he tossed a three-hit shutout to win for the sixth time in seven decisions.

He had been 0-8 after his first 11 starts.

Danks beat the Tigers the last time he faced them, but is 4-5 lifetime against them with a 3.95 ERA in 13 starts.

Detroit has won seven of its 12 matchups with the White Sox this season, including four of the six meetings in Motown.