Tigers 4, White Sox 3
DETROIT (AP)—Curtis Granderson’s friends back home on the South Side of Chicago asked him to take it easy on their beloved White Sox.
Detroit’s rookie center fielder hopes they are still his buddies.
Granderson hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Tigers over the White Sox 4-3 on Monday night.
Chicago’s lead in the AL Central dropped to two games over idle Cleveland and its magic number remained at five to clinch the division.
“I don’t know what will happen when I get home,” joked Granderson, who was born in Blue Island, Ill.
The White Sox had a 15-game lead on Aug. 1, and if they fail to finish in first it would be one of the biggest collapses in baseball history.
“That’s the furthest thing from our mind,” center fielder Aaron Rowand said.
The White Sox and Indians have six games left, including a three-game, season-ending series in Cleveland.
“I guess we’ll just play it all out,” said Cliff Politte, who gave up the homer to Granderson.
The Tigers mobbed Granderson when he crossed the plate.
“This is a big win for the playoff situation,” manager Alan Trammell said. “Our job is to knock ‘em off and we did.
“Those guys are celebrating and they deserve it.”
Though Politte (6-1) threw a fastball in the middle of the plate, he was surprised that Granderson turned on it well enough to drive it over the left-center wall.
“I didn’t expect it to go out,” Politte said. “I’m still amazed it went out because this is a big ballpark.”
The White Sox led 2-0 after three innings and 3-2 after five—and had an opportunity to go ahead late in the game.
In the eighth, the White Sox blew a chance to break a 3-all tie with runners on second and third and one out. A.J. Pierzynski struck out against Jamie Walker, and Chris Spurling got the Tigers out of the jam by striking out Jermaine Dye.
“We had a chance a couple of times and we couldn’t pull the trigger,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “When you have an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it or you’re going to pay for it.”
Both starters gave up three runs on two-run homers and solo shots.
Chicago’s Jon Garland allowed eight hits and three walks while striking out seven over 6 2-3 innings.
“I was upset at myself for getting the lead and giving it right back,” Garland said. “I let my team down.”
Detroit’s Jason Johnson gave up six hits in seven innings, pushing his season total to a career-high 204 innings.
Paul Konerko’s two-run homer in the first gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead.
After stranding two runners in consecutive innings, Inge’s two-run homer in the fourth tied it at 2.
“That’s a tough lineup, regardless of their record or what people say about them,” Garland said.
Chicago went back ahead in the fifth on Joe Crede’s solo homer, his career-high 22nd.
Inge’s second home run tied it at 3 in the sixth.
“I know it’s a bad situation with us not making the playoffs and not being .500, but we just have to have fun,” Inge said.
Garland is 1-5 in his last nine starts. He was 3-0 with two shutouts against the Tigers this season and had held them scoreless for 26 innings until Inge hit his first homer off him in the fourth. … Inge hit two homers for the second time in his career, the first since May 7, 2003, at Baltimore. His second home run was over the center-field wall, making him the first player to hit three homers there in Comerica Park’s six-year history. … Konerko has homered in back-to-back games after not hitting a homer since Sept. 9. … Konerko and Inge were the first players to homer to center in Comerica Park in the same game. … Detroit SS Carlos Guillen (knee) started for the time since Aug. 10. … Detroit RHP Roman Colon (shoulder) likely will not pitch in the final week of the season, and DH/OF Dmitri Young (hamstring) is not expected to be able to start a game. … With attention turned toward football as usual in September in Detroit, the game drew just 10,840 fans.