CHICAGO — To Justin Verlander, a win means much more than another statistic on his baseball card.
Pinch-hitter Scott Sizemore connected for a three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday, lifting Verlander and the Detroit Tigers over the Chicago White Sox 6-3.
“The thing I'm most proud of is getting wins for the team,” Verlander said. “Wins [are] not a singular stat. It's probably the most team-oriented stat there is. You get that many wins in that many years, it has a whole lot to do with the guys playing behind me.”
Chicago lost its fifth in a row and dropped 10 games behind Minnesota in the AL Central. The Twins' magic number was cut to five.
Verlander (17-8) pitched a six-hitter and struck out eight. He struggled in only one inning, giving up three runs in the fifth.
“He's a special talent,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
“We all know that. You don't just find guys like that.”
Sizemore, batting for starting second baseman Will Rhymes, hit a tiebreaking home run with two outs. Reliever Sergio Santos (2-1) gave up two singles in the eighth before Sizemore homered off Chris Sale.
“It was awesome,” Sizemore said.
“[Sale] has got good stuff. I was just trying to get the barrel on the ball and got enough elevation to get it out.
“Coming off the bench isn't always the easiest thing,” he added. “You just have to be ready for the fastball, and all I was trying to do was put the barrel on it.”
Ryan Raburn hit a two-run single in the first to give Detroit a lead it would not relinquish.
In the fourth, the Tigers added a run on Will Rhymes' two-out double down the right field line that scored third baseman Brandon Inge.
Verlander breezed through the first four innings, giving up just two hits.
But in the fifth, he surrendered back-to-back doubles as the White Sox collected four hits and scored three times.
“When the game was 3-0, I was thinking about how we could come back and we did,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guille said.
“We battled against him, but he had only one bad inning out of nine. He threw the ball very well. He was throwing a lot of off-speed pitches and we saw a fastball when he had to.”
Rookie third baseman Brent Morel doubled to right and scored on Mark Teahen's ground-rule double down the left field line.
Teahen reached third on Brent Lillibridge's single to right and scored when leadoff batter Juan Pierre hit into a fielder's choice forcing Lillibridge at second.
Pierre advanced on Alexei Ramirez's walk and scored on Alex Rios' single.
Verlander then pitched four innings of hitless ball on the way to his fifth straight victory over Chicago and third complete game of the season.
“Verlander was good,” said Leyland. “I thought he was a little shaky there but he was good. He just pitched really well.”
NOTES: Chicago starter Lucas Harrell went five innings and gave up three runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking two. ... The Tigers scored all their runs with two outs.