DETROIT (Reuters) - Led by a masterful pitching performance from Justin Verlander and the bat of Austin Jackson the Detroit Tigers overpowered the Chicago White Sox 8-1 at Comerica park Friday.
The Tigers maintain their 5.5 game lead in the American League Central over Cleveland who edged Kansas City 5-4. Chicago falls to third in the division, one game behind Cleveland and 6.5 back of the front running Tigers.
"It's always nice to win the first one, especially against an interdivisional team that's trying to catch up to us," said Verlander.
"Hopefully, we come in here tomorrow and win another one."
Jackson scored the first of three Tigers' runs in the first inning as Detroit jumped to an early lead.
Jackson's two-run home run and Jhonny Peralta's three-run triple in the fifth inning added five runs to the Tigers lead for Verlander, who earned his ninth consecutive win and league leading 21st overall with a masterful performance.
Tyler Flowers ended Verlander's shutout bid with a solo home run to lead off the eighth inning.
Verlander allowed seven hits and struck out six before leaving the game with one out and the bases loaded in the eighth.
Joaquin Benoit recorded the final two outs of the eighth holding Chicago at bay.
"It was kind of a neat night really," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Justin picked the guys up, and the guys picked Justin up, and that's a nice combination."
White Sox starter John Danks, who had won five of his six previous decisions, was charged with all eight Tigers runs allowing nine hits and two walks while striking out four.
"I never thought they would score that many runs against Danks, even the way Danks is pitching right now," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
"I don't say surprised, but he was off a little bit, and they got him early."
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer)