CHICAGO -- After being shut down in three straight games by Detroit starting pitchers, the Chicago White Sox finally caught a break on Thursday afternoon.
It just happened to come against Tigers ace Justin Verlander again. The White Sox staved off a four-game sweep by the American League Central's first-place team by roughing up Verlander for the second time this month in a 7-4 win at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Everybody swung the bat good today," said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who went 2-for-4 with a home run and run-scoring double in Chicago's four-run fourth. "We took advantage of the situations and opportunities, for the most part, so that was good."
The win also gave Chicago starter Jake Peavy the win in possibly his last start for the city's South side team. Peavy has been the subject of trade speculation recently, with baseball's July 31 non-waivers trade deadline nearing, but he tried to block that out despite a slew of scouts on hand to check him out.
"You understand what's going on with the situation, but when you get between the white lines, if you are thinking about anything else other than executing the pitch and what's the right pitch to throw in the situation you're in, you're beat," Peavy said. "So I'm probably sure that was the last thing on my mind out there today ... I could be traded or I could be part of this going forward (here). Either way, I'm going to be OK."
Alexei Ramirez also went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Sox (40-59), who had eight batters collect hits against Verlander (10-8). The Tigers' star right-hander allowed 11 hits, walked two, struck out four and was charged with seven earned runs in six innings -- even though Flowers' double skipped off the glove of Detrout left fielder Andy Dirks without being ruled an error.
"He might've (gotten) out of it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "(Dirks) has done a great job out there and he's very good out there and that's a ball he normally catches. That one was hit hard. That was not hit soft. I don't know if it fooled him or not."
Verlander also allowed five earned runs and 12 hits on July 9 in Detroit during an 11-4 Chicago win, but this time both he and Tigers coaches were more pleased overall with how he looked. His fastball topped out at 99 mph and he worked most of the day in the mid-to-upper 90s with that pitch. His curveball also looked good at times.
The location, however, was a bit erratic -- which is something Verlander predicted to pitching coach Jeff Jones earlier in the week. They made a slight adjustment in his mechanics and Verlander expected it to throw off his location slightly for a start or two. The good news, as he saw it, was how the ball felt leaving his hand.
"Obviously, the results weren't what I would've liked ... not even close," Verlander said. "But Jeff and I found something, we think, in my mechanics ... and it seemed to make everything crisper today. I feel like today, as funny as it sounds, was a step in the right direction. I thought the stuff was the best it's been all year. I was just a little erratic with it, as I kind of expected."
Detroit played without star third baseman Miguel Cabrera for the third straight game after he injured his hip flexor muscle on Monday. Still, the Tigers launched three home runs off Peavy -- including solo shots by Victor Martinez and Brayan Pena and a two-run homer by Torii Hunter to tie it 2-2 in the top of the fourth.
Flowers' double and a two-run single by Ramirez keyed the four-run bottom of the inning and that was all the Sox needed. Matt Lindstrom did not allow a run in the eighth after relieving Peavy, and Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his 26th save.
NOTES: The White Sox got some bad news before the game when RHP Jesse Crain was unable to make his scheduled sideline throwing session in the bullpen. Crain, who has on the disabled list with a strained shoulder, was supposed to throw off a mound for the second time since going on the DL July 3 and possibly return to the bullpen this weekend. Now, his return might get pushed back to after the non-waivers trade deadline expires July 31. ... Gordon Beckham's strained left wrist is improving and there is a chance he could rejoin the White Sox's starting lineup this weekend. ... Hunter left the game with soreness in his Achilles' tendon but said he is playing against the Philadephia Phillies on Friday. ... The Tigers are close to getting 2B Omar Infante back from his ankle injury. Infante is headed back to Detroit on Friday to either play against the Philadelphia Phillies or head down to nearby Toledo (Triple-A) for another rehab game. ... closer Joaquin Benoit was not available Thursday "under any circumstances" after having to finish off 6-2 wins the previous two days. The fact Leyland needed Benoit two straight nights in non-save situations still irritated him on Thursday. "That's something that has to be addressed, I mean within (here), not (with a trade)," he said. "It's just a fact that if we have to use our closer with five and six run leads in the ninth inning, we've got problems. That should not happen."