CHICAGO -- Justin Verlander and Chris Sale pitched well enough to win on a perfect Labor Day afternoon Monday at U.S. Cellular Field. But they both settled for quality starts and no-decisions in the Tigers' 5-3 victory over the White Sox in 11 innings.
Justin Upton delivered the game-winning shot, his second in as many days, taking Chris Beck deep to right on a 1-2 pitch for his 21st homer. That three-run blast came after a pair of two-out walks from Beck, and came one day after Upton hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning Sunday in Kansas City to help defeat the Royals.
"We were trying to go away off the plate there," said White Sox catcher Alex Avila of the Upton homer. "It seemed like a pretty decent pitch, but I wasn't sure how far on or off the plate it was. Really, in that situation, you're trying to throw a pitch that if he's swinging, it's either weak contact or fouling off or just out of the zone to where he's taking it, it's a ball. He put a good swing on it."
The Tigers kept pace with the Orioles, who defeated the Rays, in a tie for the American League's second Wild Card spot. They sit one game behind the Red Sox, the AL's top Wild Card team.
Verlander allowed two runs on eight hits over seven innings, striking out 11 and walking one among his 116 pitches. One-time Detroit outfielder Avisail Garcia produced the first hit off of Verlander with a double leading off the third and came around to score on Tyler Saladino's single.
Sale gave up two runs on six hits over eight innings, striking out eight and not issuing a walk. His line should be adjusted a bit in that he yielded two hits to eight hitters combined in the Detroit lineup and four hits to Miguel Cabrera, including two solo homers. Cabrera improved his 10-for-42 career effort against Sale coming into the game.
The White Sox southpaw had one quasi-jam to escape in the eighth. Cabrera singled with two outs and reached second on center fielder Adam Eaton's error. White Sox manager Robin Ventura visited Sale on the mound, with Sale at 117 pitches, but left him in the game to retire Victor Martinez on a first-pitch, hard-hit grounder to Saladino.
"As far as a matchup with both those guys going, it was a good pitchers' game to watch," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We had the chance there first and third [in the sixth and seventh] and it seemed like Justin found another level to it, just like Chris did at the end of his."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Miggy mashes: Cabrera's homers were the 300th and 301st of his Tigers career, after Detroit acquired him from the Marlins in a blockbuster trade Dec. 4, 2007. They were his 31st and 32nd in 156 career games against the White Sox, and his third and fourth off Sale. The first one in Monday's game left the bat at 105-mph exit velocity and traveled 394 feet to right-center, according to Statcast™. The second had an exit velocity of 109 mph and traveled 395 feet to left-center. More >
Melky makes a little magic: Runs were at a premium in a game featuring Sale and Verlander. They were even more difficult to come by thanks to Melky Cabrera's defense in left. Cameron Maybin, Monday's first hitter, lofted a towering fly ball to left on a Sale slider that looked destined for the White Sox bullpen. Cabrera moved back and stretched over the wall to steal the game's first run. Cabrera did the same against Kris Bryant in the first inning of a contest on July 25 at home against the Cubs.
"I know he works his tail off," said Sale of Cabrera's defense. "He puts himself out there quite a bit for us and that doesn't go unnoticed. Starting pitchers are appreciative of the effort. Not only him but all our guys." More >
Verlander tops 200: Verlander came into the game with 198 strikeouts in 188 innings. He only needed one more inning to reach the 200-strikeout mark for the sixth time. Detroit's veteran ace struck out five of the first seven he faced, including three in a row following a lead-off walk in the second, and then recorded his 11th straight quality start. He fanned six more after the second, including Todd Frazier looking for the third out with runners at the corners in the sixth and Cabrera swinging with runners at the corners to end the seventh.
You're grounded: Avila tied the game in the seventh with an opposite-field home run to left-center against Verlander, marking the second straight start Avila has gone deep against his former batterymate. Avila struck out swinging his first two times up, but connected with his family watching from a U.S. Cellular suite, a suite including his father, Al, the Tigers' general manager.
"Miggy gets two, but you would expect that if it's freezing." -- Ventura, on a warm day conducive for home runs, neutralized for the most part by Sale and Verlander
"It's a long one. I'm glad we started at 3 [p.m. CT]. It's like the only upside and it's Labor Day. So we worked a little extra today." -- Ventura, whose team has played 23 innings over the past two games
The White Sox are 5-12 against the Tigers and are 12-32 vs. the American League Central since May 23. They are 22-35 against the division overall in 2016.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Matt Boyd will make his second straight start against the White Sox on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET, after allowing two runs in four innings in a no-decision against Chicago on Aug. 29 at Comerica Park. Boyd has made two career starts at U.S. Cellular Field and is 0-0 with a 7.27 ERA.
White Sox:Miguel Gonzalez returns from the disabled list after making one successful injury rehab start with Triple-A Charlotte for Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT start. Gonzalez, who is is 0-2 with a 3.34 ERA in the econd half, has been on the disabled list since Aug. 12 with a strained right groin.