DETROIT -- Supported by home runs from James McCann and Victor Martinez, Jordan Zimmermann returned to the Tigers' rotation with 5 2/3 quality innings as Detroit opened a three-game series against the rival White Sox with a 10-3 win Friday night at Comerica Park.
In a battle of two American League Central teams looking to regain momentum, the Tigers found theirs with Zimmermann (8-2), making his first start in 12 days after being sidelined with a groin strain. His time off showed, but he tempered the damage from the White Sox offense with nine ground-ball outs. The only extra-base hit off him was Jose Abreu's sixth-inning RBI double to draw Chicago within 3-2.
"Obviously in the back of your mind, when you have [a bunch of] days off with a groin injury, you're always wondering if the next pitch is going to be the one where you feel it again," Zimmermann said. "But I didn't feel anything. Everything was good, and I'll be fine."
McCann's second home run of the season erased an early White Sox advantage before Jose Iglesias doubled and scored to continue the two-out second-inning rally off Chicago starter Carlos Rodon. Martinez sent an opposite-field shot into the right-field seats in the third for his ninth home run of the year, then added an RBI single in the seventh inning to essentially seal Chicago's eighth loss in 10 games.
"It seems early on in the game his adrenaline is pumping pretty good, and sometimes he tends to overthrow," said White Sox catcher Alex Avila of Rodon, who allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings, while fanning five and walking three. "That leads to his wildness a little bit.
"He's got great stuff, but he has to be able to command it. After the first couple of innings is usually when he starts to settle down. The adrenaline wears off a little bit and he might get a little tired."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED McCann homer powers rally: Rodon had seemingly worked his way out of a second-inning threat, erasing a leadoff runner on a double play, when McCann's fly ball to left kept carrying until it landed just on the other side of the fence for a solo shot to tie the game. The ball was hit at a 36-degree angle, according to Statcast™. McCann fell a double shy of the cycle in a 3-for-4 performance.
"He had been struggling a little bit, and he kind of had a revelation mechanically," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It bore fruit pretty quickly. He had a good night offensively. That's as good as he's looked all year."
Breaking out of it? The White Sox offense will not succeed without a significant contribution from Abreu, the team's top offensive player who has been mired in a season-long slump. Abreu showed signs of breaking loose Friday with a single to right in the second and then a run-scoring double to right-center with one out in the sixth. Abreu has seven homers and 23 RBIs over 37 career games against Detroit.
Iglesias, Wilson save a run: Iglesias' sixth-inning stop on J.B. Shuck's grounder on the other side of the bag kept the potential tying run from scoring on Zimmermann before Alex Wilson's called third strike on Jimmy Rollins stranded Abreu at third.
"Alex Wilson really did a nice job coming in and finishing the sixth and pitching the seventh," Ausmus said.
Kahnle KO'd: Robin Ventura didn't say it before Friday's game, but with Nate Jones (31 pitches), David Robertson (42) and Matt Albers (37) all throwing two innings Wednesday in New York, they were unavailable against Detroit. So Tommy Kahnle, who was called up to take Melky Cabrera's roster spot when Cabrera was placed on the family emergency leave list, pitched the seventh in a 4-2 ballgame. Kahnle allowed two runs on four hits, throwing 38 pitches in the process. He was sent back to Triple-A Charlotte after the loss. More >
"I would say for most of them, we couldn't use them tonight," said Ventura of staying away from his regular relievers.
"I've known him for a long, long time." -- a smiling Avila, on getting an on-field hug from Miguel Cabrera in his return to Detroit after playing seven big league seasons for the Tigers
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
McCann became the first Tigers catcher to triple and homer in the same game since Ivan Rodriguez, who last did so on April 14, 2008, against the Twins.
Cabrera left the game in the seventh inning with lower back tightness after tweaking his back during an at-bat earlier in the game. He's listed as day to day, but Ausmus said Cabrera expects to be able to play Saturday. More >
WHAT'S NEXT White Sox:Chris Sale (9-1, 2.29 ERA) makes his third attempt at win No. 10, with a loss and a no-decision in his last two starts. The southpaw enters Friday's 3:10 p.m. CT contest with the AL's best WHIP (0.88), third-best batting average against (.187) and fourth-best ERA.
Tigers:Mike Pelfrey (0-5, 4.96 ERA) resumes his quest for his first win with the Tigers on Saturday at Comerica Park in the middle game of the three-game series at 4:10 p.m. ET. He's 0-4 with a 6.20 ERA in eight career starts against the White Sox.