CHICAGO - It wasn't the classic pitcher's duel many anticipated between Max Scherzer and Chris Sale on Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field, but it wasn't boring either.
Scherzer led the Detroit Tigers to a 7-3 win against Sale's Chicago White Sox by continuing his run of dominance in his first outing since starting the All-Star Game. Scherzer out-pitching a player who got MVP honors in the American League's win.
Even bigger news for Detroit, however, was star third baseman Miguel Cabrera leaving the game with one out in the White Sox's half of the fifth inning.
Cabrera, who was diagnosed with a strained left hip flexor, left the field wincing but under his own power. In the top half of the fifth, he scored from second on a two-run single to right field by Victor Martinez that made it 3-0 Tigers. But it's unclear whether that played into his injury. Martinez finished 4-for-5 with three RBIs, adding a run-scoring single in the ninth.
Cabrera walked twice before leaving, including an intentional pass from Sale with two outs in the fifth that led to Martinez's big single up the middle. Torii Hunter homered in the seventh to make it 4-1 Detroit. That came one inning after Dayan Viciedo finally got Chicago on the board against Scherzer (14-1) with his own solo shot.
Conor Gillaspie hit another homer off Scherzer in the eighth to make it 4-2, but the Tigers scored three more times in the ninth, aided by two errors, to secure the win.
Scherzer went eight innings and allowed two runs on four hits. He threw 105 pitches (73 strikes) and struck out five without a walk allowed in another impressive performance.
Sale had a tougher night, but gutted out eight innings. Only two of the four runs he gave up were earned and the lanky left-hander struck out 11 on 119 pitches. He walked three, including the intentional pass to Cabrera, and gave up seven hits - including three of Martinez's four.
Sale had a little more trouble through the first two innings than Scherzer, who retired the first six hitters he faced. But neither allowed a run until the Tigers scratched one out on two hits and a walk in the third.
After allowing a pair of singles in the second and striking out Brayan Pena to close that frame out, Sale couldn't escape the third while facing the potent top of Detroit's order. Sale walked Cabrera with two outs to advance Hunter to second, and Hunter scored on Prince Fielder's single to right to make it 1-0.
That part of the order came through for the Tigers again in the fifth, when the Sox paid for some risky strategy with two outs, Hernan Perez on third and Cabrera coming to the plate. Cabrera was intentionally walked, a decision that appeared to come from the dugout and seemed to upset Sale. Fielder then walked to load the bases for Martinez.
Detroit's designated hitter came into the game hitting .397 in July and leading the American League in hits during the month. Sale ran the count to 1-2, but Martinez laced a hard grounder back through the middle that hit the mound just under Sale's glove and rolled into center field to score two runs.
Scherzer, meanwhile, dominated from the start. He was perfect through the first four innings and then worked around a lead-off single by Adam Dunn for a scoreless fifth.
NOTES: Chicago's Paul Konerko said before the game that he might be dealing with lingering effects from the lower-back strain that put him on the disabled list July 3 for the rest of the season, if not longer. Konerko, who was reinstated from the DL on Monday and was the White Sox's designated hitter, said he can deal with it as long as it loosens up with stretching and physical therapy maneuvers. ... White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham spent a second straight game out of the lineup and will also take Tuesday off because of a left wrist strain unrelated to the hamate-bone surgery he had on that hand in April. ... Chicago RHP Jesse Crain (disabled list, shoulder strain) is not yet throwing bullpen sessions or off a mound. ... Detroit 2B Omar Infante was scheduled to undergo another evaluation on his injured left ankle prior to the game and might be getting close to going on a minor-league rehab assignment. ... LHP Darin Downs (rotator cuff tendinitis) threw a bullpen session with teammates standing in as hitters before the game. ... CF Austin Jackson, who has struggled against left-handed pitching all season, will start doing extra hitting work against Detroit's left-handed batting practice pitcher, Ed Hodge.