DETROIT – Justin Verlander shut down the White Sox after the first inning and Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth Sunday night to lift the Detroit Tigers to a 4-2 victory over the White Sox and a share of first place in the AL Central.
Alejandro De Aza hit Verlander’s second pitch of the night over the wall in right field, but the Detroit ace was outstanding after that. Verlander (13-7) allowed four hits in eight innings, striking out 11 with two walks. The Tigers swept the three-game series to pull even with the Sox atop the division.
Chris Sale (15-6) allowed four runs and five hits in six innings.
Jose Valverde allowed a run in the ninth but held on for his 28th save in 32 chances.
Pinch-hitter Dan Johnson hit an RBI single off Valverde, and with men on first and third, Orlando Hudson hit a line drive to center. Austin Jackson momentarily misjudged it before tracking back to make the game-ending catch.
Amid a playoff-type atmosphere for a rare Sunday night game at Comerica Park, De Aza struck immediately. In his first at-bat after coming off the disabled list, he connected for his seventh homer of the year. De Aza had been out with injured ribs.
Verlander shook off that setback quickly, striking out three in the first inning and making it clear this would not be a repeat of his eight-run, 12-hit disaster at Kansas City in his previous start.
Sale was sharp too. He struck out seven and walked four, but Brennan Boesch sent a drive to center in the fifth for his 12th homer of the season, tying the game.
In the sixth, Omar Infante singled and Miguel Cabrera walked to start a Detroit rally. Prince Fielder struck out, but Young – who is on an eight-game hitting streak – homered to left. It was his 17th home run of the year.
The lead was plenty safe with Verlander, who passed teammate Max Scherzer to take a 209-204 lead atop baseball’s strikeout chart. It’s the first time two Detroit pitchers have reached 200 since Mickey Lolich and Joe Coleman did it three straight seasons from 1971 to 73.
Verlander received a huge ovation from the crowd after striking out Dewayne Wise with his 124th and final pitch.