CHICAGO – Before Friday night's game, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura raved about Jose Abreu's improvement at first base.
Abreu's defense was a big factor — but not in the positive way Ventura talked about.
Abreu had two errors in Detroit's five-run fourth inning, and Justin Verlander pitched seven effective innings in the Tigers' 7-1 victory.
"Yeah, that was a jinx," Ventura said of his pregame praise. "As soon as you talk about it, something like that is gonna happen."
The contending Tigers won for the fifth time in six games. Chicago has lost nine of 10.
Verlander (12-11) matched his season high with eight strikeouts. He allowed one run and nine hits while improving to 14-4 with a 2.94 ERA in his last 19 starts against Chicago.
J.D. Martinez had a double and two singles for Detroit. The Tigers got 13 hits, including five doubles.
Scott Carroll (5-9) took the loss but didn't get much support in the field. He allowed seven runs, three earned, and 10 hits in five-plus innings.
Abreu had three hits before leaving the game after the seventh, but his fielding problems were more of a factor.
With the Tigers up 2-1, Victor Martinez led off the fourth with a grounder that handcuffed Abreu for an error, and J.D. Martinez followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Nick Castellanos made it 3-1 with an RBI groundout and Alex Avila then doubled home another run for a 4-1 edge.
After Eugenio Suarez singled to put runners on the corners, Ezequiel Carrera,hit a high bouncer to first base. Abreu, perhaps checking to see if he had a play at the plate, took his eye off the ball and it glanced off his glove for another error as Avila scored.
That should have ended the inning, but Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter each drove in a run to make it 7-1.
"They gave us the advantage of a couple extra outs, and we took advantage of it," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Verlander made a wild pickoff throw in the first that set up a sacrifice fly by Adam Dunn. The White Sox loaded the bases, but Verlander struck out Tyler Flowers on a 95 mph fastball and seemed to get stronger as the game progressed.
"He works the zone very well, top to bottom, left to right and in and out," Chicago's Adam Eaton said. "He did that tonight, especially later in the game. In the first inning, we had a few on and we didn't do too much with it. He shut us down from there."
Tigers: RHP Joakim Soria resumed his throwing program before the game, when he threw off flat ground for the third time this week. The hope is that his strained left oblique will not require a second stint on the disabled list, but there is no timetable for his return.
White Sox: OF Moises Sierra went hitless in four at-bats on his rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte. He is on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left oblique.
The Tigers will send RHP Max Scherzer (15-4, 3.13 ERA) to the mound against LHP Chris Sale (10-3, 2.03 ERA) in the opener of a split doubleheader on Saturday. Tigers LHP Kyle Ryan and White Sox RHP Chris Bassitt are scheduled to make their major league debuts in the nightcap.
LITTLE BIG MEN
Before the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, the White Sox plan to honor Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West for winning the national championship in the Little League World Series. The White Sox are encouraging fans to wear gold to pay tribute to the team.