Major ground can be made up for the Detroit Tigers in their quest for a division crown when they begin a critical three-game series Friday versus the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park.

The Tigers haven't been playing their best ball as of late and are three games behind Chicago in the standings. They're also three games out of the Wild Card and were just swept in three games at Kansas City.

In Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Royals, Jhonny Peralta had two hits and drove in the only run for the Tigers. Prince Fielder had three hits in defeat, Detroit's fourth in six tries.

Rick Porcello started for Detroit and allowed both runs and eight hits in five innings. He talked about keeping tabs on what the White Sox were doing afterward.

"We're a much better team than what we showed these past three games," Porcello said. "I think for us to be looking at what Chicago's doing and what's happening with them would be a mistake. I think we need to focus on ourselves and playing good baseball."

The Tigers also will host Cleveland on their homestand.

A groin injury prevented Doug Fister from making his last start and Drew Smyly was slated to go Friday. However, Fister will toe the rubber tonight after feeling good following a bullpen session on Tuesday, while Smyly was sent back to the bullpen for the time being.

Fister injured his groin on Aug. 19 versus Baltimore in a 7-5 loss and was saddled with the defeat for giving up seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. Fister had won six of his previous seven starts, and is 7-8 in 19 starts overall to go along with a decent 3.67 ERA.

The right-hander hasn't faced the White Sox this season and is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four career starts against them.

Chicago lost three of four matchups with Baltimore and dropped a 5-3 decision in Thursday's series finale, as Jose Quintana was roughed up on the mound to the tune of five runs and seven hits -- two homers -- in 3 2/3 innings.

"You know, it's really hard to say how I went from feeling good starting off to it really going quick," Quintana said through an interpreter on the club's website. "The only thing I can say is that I was leaving pitches down the middle and balls were getting away from me."

Alexei Ramirez had three hits and drove in two runs for the White Sox, who entered the series with the Orioles on a six-game winning streak. Third baseman Kevin Youkilis was given Thursday off to rest and is expected to be in the lineup this evening.

Jake Peavy will have the honors of opening this series with Detroit. Chicago's bullpen blew Peavy's last start in a 9-8 loss to Seattle, so he'll try and get the job done himself tonight. Peavy did not record a decision in that loss last Friday and is 0-2 in his past four trips to the mound. Peavy, who is just 2-4 in his previous six decisions, has an even mark of 9-9 in 25 starts to go along with a 3.09 earned run average.

Peavy, sporting a 4-6 mark in 13 road assignments, is 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA in four starts against Detroit this season. The right-hander and 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner owns a 3-3 mark and a 4.37 ERA in nine career starts against the Tigers.

Detroit has won four in a row against the White Sox and is 7-4 so far in the season series. Chicago is winless in four straight at Comerica Park.