CHICAGO -- They didn't have their injured star third baseman again, but the Detroit Tigers churned out another impressive win against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night without Miguel Cabrera.
Powered by a three-run homer from star first baseman Prince Fielder and six shutout innings thrown by Anibal Sanchez (8-7), the Tigers beat the White Sox 6-2 for their fourth win in as many games and third straight against Chicago in this series at U.S. Cellular Field.
Detroit (56-44), which stayed 3 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Indians in the American League Central race, will try for the series sweep on Thursday afternoon with ace Justin Verlander pitching against Jake Peavy -- a potential trade target the Sox are rumored to be shopping around.
Cabrera missed his second straight game after leaving on Monday with a hip flexor strain that flared up as he scored from second base off a single to center.
His absence was barely noticed for the second straight game, especially after Fielder launched his long three-run shot in the top of the first off White Sox starter John Danks.
The Tigers rolled from there. Fielder went 2-for-4 and nearly clubbed a second homer in the fifth, two hitters after Torii Hunter took Danks deep for his second solo homer of the series. Austin
Jackson added a solo shot in the second, as Detroit tacked on runs in the second, fifth and sixth against Danks -- who labored through seven tough innings.
Meanwhile, Sanchez scattered six hits and only got into trouble in the fifth, working his way out of the jam without allowing a run. He struck out five with just one walk and gave way to the bullpen after
throwing 101 pitches. It was a continuation of Detroit's dominant starting pitching in this series -- which started with Max Scherzer allowing just two earned runs in eight innings on Monday night to earn his 14th win.
Rick Porcello followed that up with an impressive win of his own on Tuesday, when he threw seven scoreless innings in the Tiger's 6-2 victory. After Sanchez's mastery on Wednesday, the White Sox haven't scored off a Tigers starting pitcher in 13 innings -- dating back to the second run they plated off Scherzer in the eighth on Monday.
Chicago didn't score Wednesday night until hard-throwing reliever Bruce Rondon took over for Sanchez to start the seventh -- allowing a run on two hits and a wild pitch. Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-4 with two runs and a solo homer in the ninth, Alejandro De Aza both went 2-for-3 and Alexei Ramirez (1-for-4) added an RBI single in the seventh to lead the Sox (39-59) -- who haven't been 20 games below the .500 mark since 2007 and are 15-35 in their last 50 games.
After Matt Tuisasosopo worked Danks for a walk with Torii Hunter already aboard, Fielder came to the plate and drilled his 17th homer of the season into the seats beyond the wall in right-center, giving
Sanchez a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch.
Jackson's homer made it 4-0 with two outs in the second and Hunter's in the fifth provided a 5-0 cushion for Sanchez -- who retired the White Sox with little trouble until Chicago's half of the fifth -- when he needed a flyout by Alex Rios to strand runners at second and third.
NOTES: The White Sox got some positive news from 2B Gordon Beckham, who took some swings to test out his strained left wrist and felt like he could take at-bats in a game if the team were in a pinch. Beckham is likely to get the series finale off on Thursday afternoon, but might be able to avoid a trip to the disabled list. ... RHP Jesse Crain is still tentatively scheduled to throw another bullpen side session on Thursday in his recovery from a shoulder strain. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland did not discuss Cabrera's injury timetable, other than to say he felt better than Tuesday but not enough to play in this
game. ... Tigers 2B Omar Infante (ankle) and LHP Darin Downs (rotator cuff tendinitis) started minor league rehab assignments at low-A West Michigan on Wednesday. ... Detroit signed former RHP prospect Jair Jurrjens to a minor league contract on Wednesday. He will pitch at Triple-A Toledo to start out.