The Chicago White Sox's Alex Rios emphatically put aside his struggles against one Detroit Tigers starter in the opener of this three-game set. He'll look to do the same against another Wednesday night.
The slugger has a poor history against Rick Porcello , who has been woeful in his last two home starts but was outstanding his last time out.
Rios tied an AL mark with six hits in a nine-inning game Tuesday in an 11-4 victory. He's the first White Sox player to go 6 for 6 since Lance Johnson on Sept. 23, 1995.
"It's been the most fun we've had in a quite a while," Rios said. "We've had some tough times, but it shows we haven't quit."
The right fielder was 8 for 33 in his career against Justin Verlander before becoming the first player to get four hits off the Tigers ace in one game.
Now Rios will try for a similar breakout effort against Porcello (5-6, 4.82 ERA). He's 6 for 28 with three homers against the right-hander.
Porcello, though, has yielded 13 runs over 10 1-3 innings in losing back-to-back home starts. His losing streak reached three before he threw seven innings to earn a 7-0 road victory over second-place Cleveland on Friday.
"His mound presence (that night), with a packed house, on the road and a team right there with you, was the best I've seen," manager Jim Leyland said.
Porcello has gone 5-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his last seven starts against the White Sox, including 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA in the last three at home.
Gordon Beckham is 6 for 15 against the Tigers starter, and the Chicago second baseman is 9 for 20 during a five-game hitting streak.
The White Sox's 23 hits Tuesday marked their highest total since they had 24 on May 25, 2009. Dayan Viciedo homered twice and drove in four runs for Chicago, which ended a four-game overall slide and seven-game skid in Detroit.
Miguel Cabrera broke the Tigers' record for homers before the All-Star break with his 29th. He leads the majors with a .363 batting average and 92 RBIs.
Cabrera, however, appeared to hurt his back by leaping for a high throw in the eighth inning.
"He's not 100 percent and that's why he's not going to take part in the (All-Star game) home run contest," Leyland said. "I talked to him and we talked to the trainers, and on the trainer's advice, he's not going to do it."
Axelrod has gone 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA over his last seven outings. He gave up five runs over 1 2-3 innings in the shortest start of his career Friday, an 8-3 road loss to Tampa Bay.
The right-hander owns a 5.84 ERA against Detroit in four career appearances - two starts. Cabrera is 3 for 7 against him and Austin Jackson is 4 for 5.
|Alejandro De Aza||13||.154||2||0||0||3||2||.313||.467||.154|
|Chicago White Sox|
|July 03, 2013||Paul Konerko||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|July 02, 2013||Jesse Crain||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder tightness|
|June 30, 2013||Jesse Crain||15-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
|June 15, 2013||Alejandro De Aza||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 05, 2013||Jake Peavy||15-Day DL||Fractured rib - out 4-6 weeks|
|June 04, 2013||Jake Peavy||Day-to-Day||Left game - Rib pain|
|July 07, 2013||Darin Downs||15-Day DL||Left rotator cuff tendinitis|
|July 04, 2013||Omar Infante||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|July 03, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shin|
|June 20, 2013||Matt Tuiasosopo||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal|
|June 20, 2013||Matt Tuiasosopo||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal|
|June 17, 2013||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Left forearm contusion|
DETROIT (AP) -- Joaquin Benoit is enjoying a little extra attention these days.
That's taken some getting used to for Detroit's setup man-turned-closer.
The Tigers are promoting Benoit's campaign to win the final vote for the American League All-Star team, and on a night when orange "Vote BENOIT" shirts were all over Comerica Park, the veteran right-hander closed out Detroit's 8-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
"A little bit shaky - I guess too excited for everything that's going on with the fan votes," Benoit said. "If I don't get there, I'm really just happy because everybody's voting for me."
Benoit walked two in the ninth, but was able to finish the game. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera - who are already on the All-Star team - had three hits apiece for the Tigers on Wednesday night, including a two-run homer by Fielder.
Detroit allowed 23 hits in an 11-4 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday, but it was the Tigers who did the slugging early on in this game. Fielder lined his two-run shot to right field in the first inning for his 16th homer of the year.
Alex Avila 's two-run single in the third put Detroit ahead 5-1.
Conor Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham homered for Chicago.
Detroit's Rick Porcello (6-6) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.
The Tigers' bullpen has been shaky all season, but Benoit has been used more as a closer lately. He's now 8-for-8 in save chances, and he lowered his ERA to 1.69.
He's part of a group of five relievers up for a final vote for the AL All-Star team. The others are Toronto's Steve Delabar , the New York Yankees ' David Robertson , Texas' Tanner Scheppers , and Boston's Koji Uehara .
"It's probably the only thing I haven't accomplished in my career," Benoit said. "I've been to the World Series last year, I've been to the playoffs. I've been a starter, I've been a reliever. I've done almost everything - now an All-Star game wouldn't be bad."
The Tigers extended their AL Central lead over second-place Cleveland to 3 1/2 games.
Chicago's Dylan Axelrod (3-6) allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Cabrera's run-scoring single in the sixth pushed his major league-leading RBI total to 93.
"It's hard to put in perspective," Porcello said. "That's a career season for the majority of guys in baseball, and that's only his first half."
Chicago's Alex Rios was hitless a night after going 6 for 6, and the White Sox never led Wednesday. After Gillaspie's homer in the second, the Tigers made it 3-1 on Austin Jackson 's RBI triple in the bottom of the inning.
Axelrod's problems continued in the third when Avila lined a single to right with the bases loaded. The ball landed just in front of a diving Rios, and two runs came home.
"Ax wasn't sharp, and that's a tough lineup to face when you don't have your best stuff," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "His velocity was down all night, and he wasn't getting much from his pitches. When you do that against the Tigers, they will squeeze you, make you throw the ball over the plate and then they beat you."
Axelrod has allowed 29 earned runs in 28 innings in his last six starts.
Porcello won his second straight start - he blanked Cleveland for seven innings last week. Chicago scored twice in the fourth on an RBI single by Dayan Viciedo and a sacrifice fly by Beckham, but right fielder Torii Hunter made a diving, back-handed catch on Beckham's hit to prevent further damage.
Porcello struck out six without a walk.
Detroit added three runs in the sixth on consecutive RBI singles by Cabrera, Fielder and Victor Martinez . That made it 8-3, but Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon allowed Beckham's homer and an RBI double by Alexei Ramirez in a shaky seventh.
Then Detroit turned to two relievers who have been pretty sharp in 2013. Drew Smyly worked a perfect eighth, and Benoit pitched the ninth.
NOTES: All eight of Detroit's runs came with two out. ... Martinez had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Chicago left-hander Chris Sale (5-8) faces Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez (7-5) on Thursday.