But with runners on the corners and two outs, Stiever struck out Daz Cameron to escape further damage — the first of nine outs in a row before he left after 3⅔ innings of one-run ball.
The Tigers (20-26) weren't able to score again until the top of the ninth inning and took a 5-2 loss Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field. They were swept in the three-game road series and have lost nine of 10 to the White Sox this year.
The season series, however, is finally over.
With the Tigers' fifth loss in six games, they are 5½ games back of the New York Yankees for the AL's eighth and final spot in the expanded 16-team postseason.
Detroit takes a day off Monday before a two-game slate at Comerica Park against the Kansas City Royals. Left-hander Matthew Boyd will start the series opener, followed by rookie Tarik Skubal on Tuesday.
Right-hander Spencer Turnbull gave up one run through three innings before laboring through the fourth and fifth innings. His downfall began when Eloy Jimenez pounded a slider in the strike zone for a go-ahead homer in the fourth.
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The White Sox opened the flood gates in the fifth, tacking on three runs for a 5-1 lead. After getting Jarrod Dyson moved Danny Mendick up to second base with a bunt, Turnbull was forced to face the top of the order: single, walk, single, capped off by Jimenez's groundout to drive in another run.
Turnbull got through the fifth by striking out James McCann but was replaced by left-hander Tyler Alexander for the sixth frame. He gave up five runs on eight hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
Of his 97 pitches, Turnbull used 31% sliders, 28% fastballs, 26% sinkers, 10% changeups and 5% curveballs. He got 14 strikes swinging and 11 called strikes.
The 27-year-old was fresh off six scoreless innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sept. 8 at Comerica Park, but for the third time this season, he hasn't been able to put together back-to-back quality starts.
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Although Turnbull's ERA dropped from 3.32 to 3.94, he still leads the starting rotation.
Rookie strong for ChiSox
Entering Sunday, Stiever hadn't pitched above High-A Winston-Salem, where he started 14 games with a 4.74 ERA in 2019. He moved up the minor-league ladder after posting a 2.15 ERA in 12 starts for Single-A Kannapolis earlier in the year.
Without Double-A or Triple-A on his resume, the White Sox let the 23-year-old attack Detroit's lineup in the series finale. But it was the Tigers who did the attacking from the get-go.
The Tigers tallied two walks and two singles in the first inning, forcing Stiever to use 36 pitches. They got ahead, 1-0, and seemed poised to chase him early.
That didn't happen.
He left with two outs in the fourth inning, ending his MLB debut at 73 pitches. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks — all in the first inning — with three strikeouts.
Through two seasons in the minors, Stiever owned a 3.59 ERA, 193 strikeouts and 36 walks in 173 innings.
Young infield takes over
The Tigers gave second baseman Jonathan Schoop a rare break Sunday, electing to use rookie Sergio Alcantara in his place. The infield starters were as young as they've been this year: 24-year-old Alcantara, 26-year-old Jeimer Candelario, 23-year-old Willi Castro and 21-year-old Isaac Paredes.
Gardenhire also had 23-year-old Daz Cameron in right field and 25-year-old Victor Reyes in center field.
"They're just trying to get their feet grounded and get their at-bats and get some hits," Gardenhire said Sunday. "And this is a big moment for them, their first time in the big leagues. We're using a lot of kids out there. ... It's a constant talking with them."
Schoop, 28, is hitting .278 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in 44 games. In his last seven contests, he is 2-for-21 with one RBI.
Goodrum nearly back
Shortstop Niko Goodrum went to the 10-day injured list Sept. 5, retroactive to Sept. 2, with a right oblique strain. He had a .186 batting average in 31 games when his season was paused, and Gardenhire expects him back soon.
"Niko's gonna join us when we get home after the day off and come and work workout," Gardenhire said Sunday. "He's been doing great, swinging from both sides. The next step is for him to do that in front of us when we get home. Take (batting practice), groundballs, the whole package. Probably (will) be activated. Sounds like he's doing really good."
Gardenhire isn't sure what he's going to do with shortstop Willi Castro, who entered Sunday's game hitting .349, once Goodrum returns. Meanwhile, there isn't a timetable for utility player Harold Castro, who went to the 10-day injured list Aug. 19 with a left hamstring strain before sustaining a right hamstring strain in his rehabilitation.
"We thought we would have him back by now, but he's had a setback," Gardenhire said.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers lose 5-2 to White Sox; season series finally over