Bullpen picks up Fulmer with four scoreless

Bullpen picks up Fulmer with four scoreless

CHICAGO -- Michael Fulmer has picked up the Tigers pitching staff since his arrival, outperforming everyone's expectations. Friday's 7-5 win over the White Sox was the Tigers' chance to return the favor.

As Justin Morneau's first home run off Tigers pitching since 2013 carried out to right, the White Sox could celebrate more than a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning. They were one of the rare teams to rough up Fulmer this season, joining the Royals. Chicago put up as many earned runs in that inning (four) as Fulmer had allowed over 25 1/3 innings in his previous four starts combined.

The Tigers bullpen answered by allowing the White Sox two hits over four shutout innings.

"Baseball's kind of a team of individuals the way it's set up," manager Brad Ausmus said. "That's how you can pick teammates up. That's one way to do it."

That was perfectly fine for Fulmer.

"I made one mistake to Morneau and he made me pay for it," he said. "But we won the game, so that's my goal every start, whether I throw a shutout or five runs in five innings."

It began with a hitless sixth inning from lefty Kyle Ryan against the bottom of the White Sox order to keep the Tigers' deficit at one run. But the key inning proved to be the seventh once Miguel Cabrera's two-run single put Detroit in front. On came Alex Wilson, facing the middle of the White Sox order.

Wilson got a Tim Anderson groundout and Melky Cabrera fly out before Jose Abreu got an infield single to bring back Morneau. Ausmus didn't want to have to extend a reliever past an inning, but he didn't want to take another chance against the veteran left-handed hitter to beat them again.

Enter Justin Wilson, who had been warming up for Morneau since the inning started. He retired Morneau on cutters to get a groundout to second, then stayed on to work the eighth.

Once Francisco Rodriguez sent down the top of the order in the ninth for his 27th save, the Tigers bullpen had earned them a win. And Fulmer, still seeking his 10th victory, was all good.

"That's why I love this team," he said. "They never give up. Obviously I had a three-run lead going into the fifth and I gave up four runs. It's easy to kind of shut down from there, but this team, they always fight, and the bullpen did a fantastic job putting up zeros the rest of the game."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.