DETROIT - In a pregame chat yesterday, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said the American League Central division race, already a focal point in baseball, is just beginning.
"This is going to be a dogfight, all the way to the end," Guillen said.
With their performance against the White Sox this season, the Tigers can only hope that's true. Propelled by three home runs, Chicago won 7-1 at Comerica Park last night.
Against the defending world champions, Detroit is 1-6. The loss, in front of a crowd of 39,153, shortened the Tigers' lead in the American League Central to 3 1/2 games.
Paul Konerko hit two home runs and Joe Crede added a solo shot and a run-scoring double.
Tigers starter Nate Robertson (8-6) said other than a faulty changeup he felt like he had his good pitches last night, but his mistakes became magnified.
"You've got to tip their cap to them, because every time I missed a pitch, they got it," Robertson said.
Robertson pitched 62/3 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits. The last two runs scored after he left the game in the seventh and Jason Grilli allowed Konerko's three-run blast over the right-field fence.
"The White Sox beat you because they hit it out of the park," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Forget all the small-ball stuff."
Meanwhile the Tigers (62-31) could not muster much against Jon Garland (9-3), who has won his last five decisions.
"We got out-hit, that's all there is to it," third baseman Brandon Inge said. "They hit the ball hard all over the field."
The critics have found a flaw in the Tigers' season, trouble with the elite teams, but to some players it seems inconsequential.
"It's frustrating, but we've just got to go out there and win, it doesn't matter who we're playing," first baseman Chris Shelton said. "We could be 1-6 against anybody, but since they're the world champs and they're chasing us, everybody makes a big deal out of it."
After losing three over the weekend, the White Sox (58-34) were just happy to get a win.
"We won't take them for granted," Guillen said. "We played well, hopefully we'll play well again [tonight]. The best thing about this game is now we won't get swept."
The White Sox started the scoring in the second inning when Crede doubled in Jermaine Dye. Dye scored again for the White Sox in the fourth on Juan Uribe's single to left.
Konerko's other home run led off the sixth inning. Crede hit one in the same inning with two outs.
The Tigers' lone run came in the fifth, when Placido Polanco's single to right scored Omar Infante. Polanco's single wasn't hit hard, but it escaped the grasp of the diving Konerko.
Other than that, the Tigers worked runners into scoring position just three times, and without another score. Leyland called his team "sluggish" at the plate, and a comeback like the ones they mounted over the weekend against Kansas City wasn't there.
"We basically got our butts kicked pretty good," Leyland said. "[But] we're not getting carried away with being in first place, we're not going to get carried away if we lose a couple games, because that's disaster for you, in my opinion."
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