Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter is mobbed by teammates. Hunter’s line drive to left-center field in the 12th inning gave the Tigers a 3-2 victory over the White Sox on Sunday, stretching Detroit’s winning streak to eight games and Chicago White Sox’s losing streak to 10.
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DETROIT — Torii Hunter’s day off came to an abrupt end in extra innings.
That was fine with the Detroit outfielder — especially once he was smiling and celebrating after hitting the winning single.
Hunter’s line drive to left-center field in the 12th inning gave the Tigers a 3-2 victory over the White Sox on Sunday, stretching Detroit’s winning streak to eight games and Chicago’s losing streak to 10. Hunter was out of the starting lineup, but he entered in the 10th with the game tied.
“I thought I had a day off, but when you come to the park, you enjoy the first couple innings. Once that fifth inning hits, you just go down to the tunnel and get yourself loose,” Hunter said. “That’s the way you’ve got to approach it.”
Miguel Cabrera, who has been dealing with hip and abdominal problems, led off the Detroit 12th with a pinch-hit single. Matt Tuiasosopo ran for him and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Austin Jackson. Hunter’s single off Dylan Axelrod (3-8) drove in the winning run.
Bruce Rondon (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings for his first career win.
The Tigers have won 12 of 13, and take a three-game lead in the AL Central into a four-game series at second-place Cleveland.
“The starting pitchers are having quality starts, and our bullpen is coming in and getting the job done,” Hunter said. “Timely hitting, our defense looks good ... all cylinders are clicking right now. We’re just going to ride that bike until the wheels fall off.”
Adam Dunn homered and had four hits for Chicago. Paul Konerko added a solo homer in the ninth for the White Sox to force extra innings.
The White Sox have lost 10 straight for the first time since June of 1976. They were aggressive early on, and it ended up backfiring.
With one out in the first, Alexei Ramirez left first base early, trying to steal second. Pitcher Rick Porcello eventually realized what was happening and stepped off the rubber, catching Ramirez in a rundown.
The next three hitters reached base on two singles and a walk, but Chicago stranded them all and came out of the inning with no runs.
“We had them on the ropes early, but you’ve got to push them across the plate if you’re going to win,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
Detroit had men on second and third with one out in the second, but Jose Iglesias struck out and Ramon Santiago hit a grounder to first.
Dunn put the White Sox ahead 1-0 with a majestic drive in the fourth. His 26th homer of the year cleared both levels of bushes behind the wall in center field, disappearing into the ivy that also serves as a hitting backdrop at Comerica Park.
Chicago’s Andre Rienzo, making his second big league start, still hadn’t allowed an earned run in the majors until the Tigers broke through in the seventh. Alex Avila hit an RBI double, and Santiago added a sacrifice fly to give Detroit a 2-1 lead.
Chicago second baseman Gordon Beckham made a terrific sliding catch with his back to the plate on Prince Fielder’s eighth-inning popup. That helped keep the White Sox within a run.
Porcello allowed a run and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one. Reliever Drew Smyly allowed Konerko’s homer in the ninth.
Rienzo allowed two runs and four hits in six-plus innings. He struck out three and walked three.
Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta — who faces a possible suspension from Major League Baseball’s drug investigation — made a nice catch of Ramirez’s soft liner in the 10th to start a double play.
Cabrera, who like Hunter was not in the starting lineup, came to the plate to a huge ovation in the 12th. The sight of him being announced as a pinch-hitter is obviously rare. He grounded a single up the middle to start the winning rally.
“Like he hasn’t missed a beat,” Tuiasosopo said. “It’s incredible.”
NOTES: The Tigers optioned RHP Evan Reed to Triple-A Toledo and purchased the contract of RHP Jeremy Bonderman. ... Jackson’s grounder up the middle in the sixth appeared to hit Rienzo’s throwing hand, but the Brazilian right-hander stayed in the game. ... Santiago, Detroit’s second baseman, stayed in the game after diving to his right to make a nice play on Conor Gillaspie’s grounder in the fourth. It initially looked like he’d hurt his right leg. ... Detroit sends RHP Anibal Sanchez (9-7) to the mound Monday night against Cleveland RHP Corey Kluber (7-5). Chicago hosts the New York Yankees. LHP Jose Quintana (5-3) starts for the White Sox against LHP Andy Pettitte (7-8).